National campaign to improve safety for working on roads
Working on or near public roads is recognised by regulators and industry as a high-risk construction activity, particularly for general and civil construction contractors and employees, utility service providers, and traffic control workers.
In 2010, the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) approved a national campaign focusing on worker safety on or near public roads. The campaign used both desk and site audits to evaluate the management and monitoring of risks associated with work on or near roads.
A total of 526 audits were carried out across all jurisdictions from March 2011 until June 2011 and resulted in 310 recorded actions.
The most common areas of non-compliance were:
- lack of risk management and consultation around the drafting and implementation of traffic control plans
- safe work method statements not being task and/or site specific or not used at all
- lack of systems to manage manual handling risks
- lack of on-site fatigue policy or evidence that fatigue risks are being controlled.
A number of issues were identified by the audits that were not raised as part of the initial research carried out in preparation for the campaign, including:
- inadequate provision of amenities for female workers
- a lack of consideration for neighbouring construction projects within the vicinity of the site when preparing traffic control plans, which resulted in ineffective plans
- a lack of designated work breaks for traffic control workers
- insufficient number of trained traffic control workers to allow for work breaks
- an absence of fatigue management policies.
Enforcement action in Queensland was most commonly taken on issues relating to:
- poor quality or absent documentation (safe work method statements, traffic management plan)
- a failure to comply with safe work method statements or traffic management plans
- a failure to restrict pedestrian access to areas where high risk construction work was taking place (the movement of mobile plant)
- a failure to implement the required signage, barriers, and lane widths
- a failure to consult with workers
- inadequate provision of scheduled breaks for traffic controllers
- a lack of suitable amenities for traffic controllers
- a failure to provide proper training or certificates to perform traffic control work.
Participating stakeholders acknowledge that the level of industry awareness of the hazards associated with worker safety on or near public roads has significantly increased as a result of this campaign. Furthermore, it is acknowledged that industry's ability to increase their work health and safety capacity has also increased.
The results of the campaign are published to www.hwsa.org.au.
Visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or call the Work Health and Safety Infoline on 1300 369 915 for more information about current and future targeted campaigns.