Using the right vehicle for the job, with up-to-date safety features, can help reduce the risk to drivers and other people nearby. Everyone at a worksite should have the knowledge and skill to do their job safely, including knowing how to keep themselves and others safe when working in and around vehicles. In this article, we will continue our guidelines to provide advice on ways to manage traffic-related risks for workers and other people at work sites. The guidance will include two main areas:
- safe vehicles
- safe people
Using the right vehicle for the job, with up-to-date safety features, can help reduce the risk to drivers and other people nearby.
Use the right vehicle for the job
Vehicles used at work sites should be suitable for the purpose for which they are used. Using a vehicle for a task that it is not suited for can create risks for the driver and other people at the worksite.
When choosing the right vehicle for a job, consider the following things:
- What will the vehicle be doing?
- Is the vehicle designed for the purpose you want to use it for?
- Can the vehicle handle the required weight/load that you want it to carry?
- What environment will the vehicle be used in? For example, is the vehicle suitable for working in wet conditions or working on uneven surfaces?1
- Will the worker operating the vehicle be trained and competent enough to use it safely for that task?
- Is the vehicle currently certified and/or warranted? All worksite vehicles must meet relevant standards and required registrations.
- If the vehicle is being used for many uses, is it suited to those uses?
- Will the vehicle be used in an enclosed area? If so, consider what emissions the vehicle produces. For example, diesel/LPG/petrol-powered forklifts should not be used in enclosed areas.
Keep drivers safe
Worksite vehicles should be fitted with the following safety features (where appropriate):
- seat belts
- operator protective structure (OPS)
- protection from the weather or extreme environments (for example, air-conditioned cabs for work in the summer or heated cabs for work in cool stores)
- air filtration system (especially if the driver could be exposed to fumes or particulates.
- guards on all dangerous parts of the vehicle (for example, chain drives or exposed hot exhaust pipes)
- emergency stops (where relevant).
Drivers should always use seatbelts unless there is a specific exception allowed (such as for quad bikes and motorbikes).
Drivers should have good visibility when operating a vehicle.
Blind spots can occur, especially when reversing, or carrying a large load.
You should consider adding features to the vehicle to eliminate blind spots and help drivers navigate safely when visibility is limited. For example:
- audible alarms when vehicles are moving/reversing
- reversing cameras with lines to indicate distance
- extra lighting (especially if the vehicle is operating at night) extra mirrors
- proximity warning devices (see Section 6.5 Consider technological safety controls).
Check any additions do not compromise the integrity of the OPS (if present). You may need to have the OPS re-certified if additions or alterations are made.
You should consider adding the following features to vehicles (if they are not already present) to help pedestrians notice and avoid moving vehicles:
- flashing or rotating beacons
- a horn
- personal proximity sensors (see Section 6.5 Consider technological safety controls).
Consider technological safety controls
Elimination and engineering control measures are considered the most effective control measures. However, technological safety control measures can also contribute to making a worksite safer by helping drivers avoid
incidents. For example:
- laser projected floor lines showing pedestrians how far away they should be from the vehicle when it is moving (see Figure 01)
- lane departure warning devices
- reversing radar that alerts the driver when they are coming close to people or objects within a defined area when reversing
- proximity warning devices such as:
- vehicle proximity warning devices that alert the driver when they are coming within a specified range of objects, other vehicles, or people
- personal proximity warning devices that alert the driver and pedestrians (who are wearing a detectable tag) that they are within a specified range of each other.
Some proximity warning systems can automatically limit a vehicle’s speed or prevent the operation of the vehicle when certain conditions are detected (such as proximity to people, pedestrian crossings, specified work zones, or other vehicles). In these cases, they can be considered engineering control.
Some technological safety control measures can also monitor and provide data on the vehicle’s movements, including near misses. This data could be used when reviewing control measures and when identifying high-risk areas or drivers.
When purchasing new vehicles, you should consider what new technology has become available that could add to your existing control measures.
You should also consider whether it is reasonably practicable to retrofit new safety technology to your existing worksite vehicles.
Keep vehicles well maintained
All vehicles should be kept in good working order. Vehicles should be maintained according to manufacturer recommendations and/or time or mileage guidelines. Vehicles used in more extreme conditions than normal may need to be checked more often.
Drivers should visually check their vehicle at the beginning of every shift before using the vehicle. You should provide drivers with a checklist to guide them on what to look for. When using checklists you should:
- make sure drivers have enough time to complete their vehicle check
- keep the checklist as simple as possible
- include a system for reporting problems and making sure they are dealt with and closed off
- make sure vehicles that fail their daily check is taken out of service and not allowed to be used until the problem is fixed (see Figure 2)
- include a section for additional observations.
It is ultimately the responsibility of the PCBU to make sure vehicles are in good working order. You should monitor vehicle checklists to make sure the checks are carried out properly and that identified issues are dealt with.
Poorly maintained vehicles can also create health risks for drivers, such as whole-body vibration from poor suspension, or fumes exposure from clogged up vents.
Everyone at a worksite should have the knowledge and skill to do their job safely, including knowing how to keep themselves and others safe when working in and around vehicles.
Use competent drivers
Worksite vehicles should only be driven by workers who are competent in the safe use of that vehicle.
Drivers should have the relevant skills, experience, and certifications for the specific vehicle and worksite conditions they are operating in.
A competent driver is someone that:
- has had sufficient training and supervision on the operation of the vehicle. This includes:
- the practical mechanics of operating the vehicle, and
- the knowledge of how to operate it in a safe way for themselves, the environment, and the people around them
- has the required licenses and certifications to safely operate the vehicle
- has the right level of fitness and general abilities to operate the vehicle
- is physically well enough on the day to operate the vehicle safely –for example:
- not suffering from fatigue. For more information on fatigue, see our section on fatigue.
- not under the influence of medication or another substance that could
impair their ability. For more information on impairment, see our position on impairment and testing for drugs at work.
It is particularly important that new or less experienced drivers are closely monitored following their training to make sure they work safely.
Drivers should not carry passengers unless the vehicle is designed to do so, and the passengers have the same level of protection as the driver (such as working seatbelts).
Provide training and certifications
Training requirements will depend on the worker’s experience and the training they have previously received. Consider these factors when deciding the level and amount of training a worker needs.
When considering training needs for a worker, you should not only consider what vehicle type training they have received but also if they may need training for working safely in certain environments. For example, a worker may have training and experience in operating a digger at a worksite where the digger is the only vehicle present, but have no experience or training in operating a digger on a busy construction site with many other vehicles present.
Make sure all workers are competent before starting unsupervised work. They should be monitored on-site to establish their actual level of competence and any extra training needs (regardless of what licenses or certifications they may hold).
Existing workers should continue to have the training, such as:
- when the work changes and the task needs to be done differently
- when new vehicles or new features are introduced
- refresher training (when the need is identified).
Training should be provided by a competent person. Simulator training (if available) should also be considered.
Keep evidence of training and certifications
For each driver, keep records of all completed training and certifications, and licenses that they hold. Records should also include when refresher training or recertification is due. This will help make sure the right worker is allocated a particular task and identify workers who need refresher training.
Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
PPE is generally considered the last resort when protecting workers from harm. PPE should be used if there is still risk remaining after all other reasonably practicable control measures have been put in place.
On a worksite with traffic risks, this is most likely going to mean the use of hi-visibility clothing (for example, reflective vests), sturdy footwear, and possibly personal proximity warning devices.
Beware of the risks that some PPE may create when working in and around vehicle traffic. For example, hearing protection may limit a person’s ability to hear approaching vehicles, or tinted eyewear may limit the ability of drivers to make confirmed eye contact with pedestrians. You may need to consider alternative control measures to manage these risks.
Any PPE, including high visibility clothing, must meet basic PPE requirements for fit, function, and performance. Workers must receive training on how to wear, use and store their PPE correctly. For more information see our guide:
Keep visitors safe
You should have specific car parks set aside for visitors. Upon arrival, visitors should report to the reception area, site office, or site manager. They should be given information on the safety procedures and expectations for the worksite.
A pre-prepared visitor worksite induction is useful for this. For more information, see Section 8: Worksite induction and traffic management plans.
This may include providing visitors with PPE.
Keep customers safe near worksite traffic
PCBUs must make sure that the health and safety of other people are not put at risk from their work or from anything else at the worksite (so far as is reasonably practicable). Customers are considered ‘other people at a workplace’. In a retail situation, this means doing what is reasonably practicable to keep your customers safe when they are at your business.
Where worksite vehicles are in operation near customers, you should consider:
- creating a safe zone for customers
- this can be done with barriers, signage, and a store layout that keeps customers away from high traffic areas unless they have a specific purpose to be there
- installing clear signs and markings that show where customers should or should not park vehicles when they arrive at your worksite
- where relevant, a policy of asking customers to stay in their vehicles until loading or unloading is complete
- making sure children are not permitted into high traffic areas. For example, in a building supplies yard, children should always remain inside vehicles.
Provide training for your workers to help them communicate with customers about where they need to be when vehicles are operating on site.
Promote work health and safety
You should promote a work environment that prioritizes health and safety and worker well-being. This can help boost worker morale and encourage workers to follow safe work practices. This will reduce the likelihood of workers taking shortcuts and putting themselves and others at risk.
Some steps towards creating a health and safety-focused work environment include:
- getting workers, contractors, and their representatives actively involved in decision-making around health and safety. For more information see Appendix C: Worker engagement and participation
- encouraging workers to look out for each other as well as themselves
- promoting open and honest communication between workers and management
- encouraging everyone to report incidents, hazards, and near-misses
- Make sure incidents and hazards are investigated, and improvements are made where the opportunity or need is identified.
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