Applying Risk Management Principles to Traffic Management


2016 saw Victoria with the highest rate of fatalities since 2009, twenty-six Victorians lost their lives at work during the year with the highest fatality industries, once again, being Agriculture and Construction. One trend which becomes evident in the review of the 2016 figures is that incidents involving mobile plant account for fourteen of the total injuries, making up over half (54%) of total work related Victorian deaths over the course of the year.

 ‘Traffic Management’ is the term which describes the various processes developed and implemented to restrict and, where unavoidable, manage the operations of vehicles at workplaces. This article will focus on the process of traffic management risk assessment to give insight to the process of identifying effective risk controls for projects.

The universal risk management tool ‘Hierarchy of Controls’ is a tool which can be used to assist identify the effectiveness and priority of risk management controls.

Elimination measures are the top priority for risk reduction; this is the process of physically removing the hazard from the workplace:

  • Purchasing plant which is fit for purpose and in good condition, rather than retro-fitting safety equipment following purchase;
  • Selecting and tendering for projects which meet your companies capabilities and experience or hiring a specialist consultant, rather than risking an incident due to not knowing how to undertake the activity; and
  • Assessing, planning for and controlling risks before the project starts onsite;

Substitution measures seek to replace a hazardous activity with a lower level hazard:

  • Swapping a forklift with a cage for an order picker assembly;
  • Changing traffic flow from being two directional to a single direction loop; and
  • Undertaking projects from level ground before a trench or at height.

Engineering measures are physical measures implemented to isolate the hazard in operations:

  • Restriction of site entry through physical means such as fencing, bunting, interlocks and gate systems;
  • Restriction and mitigation of hazards by workplace engineering measures such as interlocks, guarding and emergency stops;
  • Implementation of plant specific guarding such as shroud covers and warning devices such as lights, beepers and radius detection devices;

Administration measures are the establishment of processes and site requirements to ensure requirements for the safety of person/plant interaction are identified onsite. These should identify engineering measures to be used onsite as well as equipment and PPE to complete the project safely:

  • Identification by physical signage of site requirements such as speed limits, lay down areas, cables (overhead and underground), water points, direction of travel and emergency areas;
  • Identification of plant specific hazard points by the use of sticker packs;
  • Identification by traffic management plan of site requirements such as speed limits, lay down areas, cables (overhead and underground), water points, direction of travel, communication channels and emergency areas; and
  • Identification of company policy, license and competency requirements for operators of plant onsite (i.e. the new forklift operator has completed a company induction, in date license for the operation of high risk plant and been trained in the site SWMS for forklift operation).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the last priority and should be implemented as a part of a more robust traffic management plan, some key PPE to be used around mobile plant include:

  • Wearing hi-vis work gear when working around mobile plant (i.e. picking orders in a warehouse with a forklift working to load vehicles nearby);
  • Wearing construction helmets with chin straps when working around plant which presents as strike hazards (i.e. working next to a Kanga spotting for cables); and
  • Wearing steel capped/ kevalar capped safety footwear to mitigate against foot strike and crush hazards (i.e. stepping under tracks).

We hope this article has helped to give some ideas regarding ways to manage safety around plant and traffic. For assistance with plant risk assessment, site risk assessment, traffic management plans and ways to reduce risks at your workplace, get in touch with our team of friendly consultants.

Phone: 1300 123 647


  • OHS Act 2004 (Victoria)
  • OHS Regulations 2007 (Victoria)
  • Safe Work Australia: Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace
  • Worksafe Victoria: Controlling OHS hazards and risks
  • Worksafe Victoria: Machinery and Equipment Safety