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19.1 Introduction to managing the risks of working near live traffic

This section offers guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) on managing the risks associated with working near live traffic. In this section, ‘live traffic’ includes motorised road users and vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians (including when using footpaths or other accessways).

Whenever an activity changes the way a road normally operates, a risk is created for both workers and road users. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), road users are considered as ‘other persons’. In this section in particular, consideration needs to be given to managing the risk created by:

  • road users towards workers, and
  • the risks created by the work/workers towards road users.
[image] Risk relationship between worker/work activity and road users
Figure 15: Risk relationship between worker/work activity and road users

Working near live traffic will usually require some form of temporary traffic management (TTM) to be in place. Where there is a TTM set-up in place (also known as a TTM zone), the worksite will typically be within this zone.

Use the hierarchy of control measures when deciding how to manage risks of working near live traffic and when planning for TTM. For more information on the hierarchy of controls, see Section 2.0: Risk management

For guidelines regarding managing the risks of vehicles and mobile plant operating within a worksite, see Section 20.0: Working with or near mobile plant

Note: The traffic management examples listed in this section do not describe all the options available. They are provided to help the reader understand how to apply a risk management approach when managing the risks associated with working near live traffic. This section should not be used as the sole resource when planning for TTM.

The New Zealand Guide to Temporary Traffic Management

WorkSafe recommends you read this section in conjunction with Waka Kotahi’s New Zealand Guide to Temporary Traffic Management (NZGTTM)(external link) which provides more detailed guidelines for temporary traffic management planning, documentation, implementation and review. 

If the work is being done on a state highway, Waka Kotahi will usually require you to follow the NZGTTM(external link).

If the work is being done on a local road, you should consult with the relevant local road controlling authority (RCA) about their requirements. They may also refer to the NZGTTM(external link)

19.2 What could go wrong working near live traffic?

Examples of traffic-related hazards at road or roadside worksites include:

  • moving vehicles travelling close to the worksite and workers
  • road users driving too fast for the conditions
  • road users that are distracted, fatigued, or impaired
  • road users that are confused by a new or temporary road layout
  • impatient road users attempting to avoid traffic management constraints by travelling on footpaths, road shoulders, or opposing lanes
  • workers creating a hazard for road users by the way the work is being done.

Examples of what can go wrong while working near live traffic include:

  • workers entering live traffic lanes and being hit by moving vehicles
  • workers being hit by flying debris from passing vehicles
  • drivers in vehicles entering the worksite and hitting/injuring workers or injuring themselves
  • pedestrians and cyclists entering worksites or live traffic lanes, and crashing into workers, mobile plant, or vehicles – injuring workers or themselves. 

19.3 Things to think about when assessing the risk of working near live traffic

Examples of things to look out for and consider include

Factors Examples of considerations
Speed of traffic (operating speed)

Consider both the speed limit in the area and the actual speeds the vehicles are going. For example:

  • do road users frequently drive over the posted speed limit?
Type of traffic

Consider the range of road users that will be affected, and the affect that they may have. For example: 

  • does the location get a lot of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists in addition to motor vehicles?
  • will a footpath, cycleway, or other type of accessway be impacted?
  • does the road have a lot of heavy vehicles passing through?

Consider if the location of the worksite has any factors that could limit road user visibility when approaching the worksite. For example: 

  • is the location prone to sunstrike or fog?
  • is there vegetation close to the road edge?
  • is the location near a sharp bend or corner?
  • are there parked vehicles?

Are there aspects of the location that already require road users to be more focused? For example: 

Other activities

What other activities or places in the area could affect driver or pedestrian behaviour? For example: 

  • schools
  • sporting events
  • public transport hubs.

Table 7: Factors to consider when assessing the risk of working near live traffic.

19.4 Eliminate or minimise the risks from working near live traffic – close the road

Often a good way to eliminate or minimise the risks of working near live traffic is to close the road while the work is being done. This should be the preferred option where it is reasonably practicable to do so.

Typically, the decision to close a road will need to be agreed upon by all parties – specifically the Road Controlling Authority (RCA) and the contractor. When deciding if closing the road is a reasonably practical step to take, consider what alternative options may be available to ensure safety and minimise disruption to road users. For example, consider:

  • if there are suitable alternative routes that road users can take to safely bypass the road closure (this includes vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists)
  • if it would be possible to publicise the road closure ahead of time, allowing road users to plan ahead, or consider alternative routes or travel times
  • if the work can be completed at a time when the road is less busy, therefore requiring less disruption to road users – for example, close the road at night to complete the works (assuming the works can be done safely in night-time conditions)
  • if the work can be done over several days with intermittent road closures or one-way detours.

When considering the available options for closing the road, you also need to assess what, if any, new risks may be created, increased, or transferred by doing so. For example, consider:

  • if the road closure would result in new or increased risk to road users
  • if the road closure would result in new or increased risk to workers while setting up and maintaining the closure
  • if the road closure would result in new or increased risk to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. 

You will need to assess whether any new risks outweigh the benefits of closing the road. In addition to consulting with workers and other affected PCBUs in the contracting chain, you may also need to consult with affected parties such as road user organisations or vulnerable road user groups.

Often, closing the road can be more cost effective. Closing the road usually means work can be completed with less interruption. Not only may it be safer for workers, but work may be completed faster and with less cost.

See the Supporting material section of the NZGTTM(external link) for road closure examples and case studies showing how the risks to workers were balanced against the risks to road users.

The convenience of road users should not be prioritised over the safety of road or roadside workers.

19.5 Further ways to minimise the risks from working near live traffic

If it is not reasonably practicable to close the road entirely while work is being done, you will need to plan how you will minimise the risk to workers and others and allow for road users to safely pass the worksite.

Short duration activities

All reasonably practicable risk management options should be considered no matter how long the work is expected to take. This will also include weighing up the risks of implementing certain control measures against the risks of the activity itself.

Where possible, convert short duration foot activities to vehicle-based activities (for example, use a truck-mounted object retrieval system to collect debris off a highway or motorway).

The length of time a worker will be on the road or roadside completing a task should not alone determine if or what control measures are used.

Isolate workers from road users

Where reasonably practicable, you should try to physically isolate the work activity and workers from road users. Examples of how this can be done include:

  • using temporary road safety barriers
  • using truck-mounted attenuators (especially for mobile works)
  • installing safety fences (this would be appropriate when isolating workers from pedestrians and non-motorised road users).

For breakdown assist situations, both vehicles should be positioned as far off to the side of the road as possible. Tools and equipment should be accessible from the side of the response vehicle facing away from moving traffic.

For kerbside rubbish and recycling collection, workers should only operate from the side of the vehicle facing away from moving traffic.

Control the movements of road users

You could minimise the risks presented by road users by creating a TTM zone that lets road users pass the worksite in a controlled way. Examples of how this can be done include:

  • lowering the speed limit
  • using piloted convoys
  • using automated stop/go systems to allow single direction traffic though the TTM zone at a time
  • setting out temporary lanes in a way that causes road users to slow down
  • installing temporary speed feedback signs
  • diverting footpaths or cycleways away from the worksite.
[image] Example of automated stop/go signals
Figure 16: Example of automated stop/go signals

Use signage and other administrative control measures

You should also consider what administrative control measures you can put in place. Examples include:

  • setting up exclusion zones to separate workers within the worksite from road users travelling through the TTM zone
  • putting up warning signs for road users (make sure these are not blocking footpaths or cycleways)
  • requesting police support for speed enforcement
  • using road cones to keep road users within their lanes and narrow the lane to encourage them to slow down
  • informing the public as soon as possible about upcoming work and what changes and disruption they may encounter. 

19.6 Traffic management plans (TMPs)

This section provides a general overview of TMPs. You should also refer to guidance provided by the RCA for more detailed information on TMPs.

Documenting a TMP

A TMP is a document that describes the design, implementation, maintenance, and removal of traffic management while work is being done on or near a road. A TMP will also typically document the roles and responsibilities of all involved.

TMPs should be created by a suitably qualified temporary traffic management planner (TTMP).

When creating these plans the TTMP should:

  • follow the findings and recommendations of the risk assessment that has already been done in accordance with HSWA (as outlined in these guidelines) and any additional guidance provided by the RCA
  • make sure all equipment to be used is consistent with the specifications listed in the NZGTTM(external link)
  • where reasonably practicable, consult with all PCBUs and their workers that will be implementing the TMP and/or working within the TTM zone while the TMP is in place
  • where reasonably practicable, consult will all road user stakeholder groups that will be affected by the TMP
  • consider their upstream duties as a designer. For more information on upstream duties, see Appendix 5: Upstream duties 

Refer to any additional guidance provided by the RCA for a more detailed list of what should be included in TMP documentation. 

Checking a TMP (TMP peer review)

Before being implemented, TMPs should be checked to make sure that:

  • the plan does not clash with other planned work
  • the plan does not cause unintended negative impacts
  • the plan has correctly identified and assessed risk, and determined the most appropriate control measures – ensuring the lowest total risk to all affected people. 

Refer to any additional guidance provided by the RCA on the steps involved in TMP peer review and who should do the peer reviews. 

Implementing a TMP

Implementing a TMP on site is usually led by a suitably qualified site traffic management specialist (STMS) and supported by suitably qualified traffic controllers (TCs).

Where there is a separate traffic management provider (contractor or subcontractor) providing traffic management for a worksite – all PCBUs on site should work together and follow the advice of the STMS in relation to TTM matters.

Work should not begin at the worksite until the STMS has confirmed that the TTM zone is ready, and the workers have been briefed.

No one should interfere with or make changes to the TTM zone set-up without having the approval of the STMS first. Workers should notify the STMS if they see any issues with the set-up (see Monitoring/reviewing a TMP below). 

Monitoring and reviewing a TMP

An important step in effective risk management is monitoring and reviewing control measures. For TMPs, this may involve checking the following:

  • Is the TMP is still relevant for the conditions. For example:
    • are the traffic volumes as planned for?
    • is the weather as planned for?
    • is the work activity as planned for?
    • have any other conditions changed that mean the TMP is no longer appropriate?
  • Are there any new risks that were not planned for?
    • If new risks have emerged that were not planned for, the TMP should be updated as soon as reasonably practicable to account for the new risks, see Changing a TMP below.
  • Assuming the TMP is still relevant for the conditions, has the site been delivered or set up correctly according to the TMP? 

Changing a TMP

Sometimes a TMP will need to be changed to accommodate changing conditions, unanticipated risks, or because of a formal review. Changes need to be documented (including the reasons for the change). Where applicable, changes should be communicated to:

  • the TTMP
  • the STMS or TC working to the plan
  • the RCA
  • other PCBUs in the contracting chain involved with the work (using already established communication channels). 

Refer to any additional guidance provided by the RCA for more detailed information on changing TMPs.

Note: There may be other parties that need to be contacted if changes to TMPs are required. Examples include rail corridor operators, public transport system operators, or airport operators. 

19.7 Emergency response traffic management

It may not be possible, or reasonably practicable, for first responders attending emergency situations to conduct a full risk assessment and make a detailed TMP.

First responders will still need to take reasonable steps to prevent further harm to road users or workers while responding to the event.

For more guidance on how to manage traffic risks while responding to emergencies, see the System management section of the NZGTTM(external link) 

19.8 More information on traffic management