A new safety information sheet has been developed for the South Australian construction industry to minimise the risks associated with mobile plant in the workplace.

The South Australian Construction Safety Alliance (SACSA) has developed a safety essentials flyer with support from SafeWork SA containing information to minimise risks associated with mobile plant in the workplace that will be shared and posted at their members worksites.

While this initiative is targeted primarily at the construction industry, working with or around mobile plant is a potential risk at any workplace with mobile plant.

During construction, mobile plant, such as multi-purpose tool carriers, elevating work platforms, delivery vehicles, earth moving equipment, prime movers and cranes, have the potential to seriously injure or kill people if they collide with them.

The safety flyer has been developed in the wake of three incidents in the past six weeks that resulted in high-risk work licence suspensions.

It is one of five SACSA safety initiatives in 2022.

The law

Work health and safety legislation require employers to ensure that risks to the health and safety of workers and others due to mobile plant (including vehicles) are eliminated or, if this is not possible, minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must consult with workers when they identify hazards and make decisions about ways to eliminate or minimise risks.

PCBUs must also provide workers and others with adequate information, training, instruction or supervision to protect persons from plant-related risks. They must ensure that workers understand site specific safety policies and procedures for their workplace, including any traffic management policies or procedures. This includes other workers who share or utilise the workplace (eg other trades, delivery drivers), and may also apply to visitors to the workplace.

Effective traffic management procedures should be developed to suit the unique requirements of each individual workplace. The nature of the workplace can determine not only the type and effectiveness of control measures that can be implemented, but also how often these control measures should be reviewed to ensure that they remain effective.

Managing risks

The management of risks associated with mobile plant can be done by identifying traffic hazards in consultation with workers and mobile plant operators, and should include identifying:

  • where mobile plant (including vehicles) are in use
  • when mobile plant might interact with pedestrians or other mobile plant
  • potential collision areas with people, other plant or objects
  • how to eliminate the risk if possible (and practicable).

Risk elimination can be achieved by:

  • designing the workplace layout so that vehicles and pedestrians are separated through the use of separate site entry points or overhead pedestrian walkways
  • scheduling work so that vehicles and pedestrians are not operating simultaneously in the one area.

When risks cannot be removed, they can be minimised through the implementation of a traffic management plan and appropriate training for workers and visitors.

Control measures within the traffic management plan can include:

  • substituting mobile plant with other plant that has less risk
  • using bollards, barriers, safety rails, exclusion zones etc to separate pedestrians from moving plant and vehicles
  • using audible and visible alarms such as reversing alarms and flashing lights to identify moving plant
  • planning the site’s layout to minimise plant movement (eg drive-through access to minimise reversing, locating loading areas close to storage areas)
  • establishing traffic flow patterns, developing right of way procedures, providing signage and implementing speed limits
  • using spotters or dedicated traffic controllers
  • restricting access to essential personnel only
  • using high-visibility garments.

At most sites, a combination of control measures will be required to effectively manage the risks associated with mobile plant.

Control measures need to be regularly reviewed to ensure they remain effective, particularly at construction sites where the workplace is changing.

Systems should be in place to:

  • assess the effectiveness of current control measures
  • allow reporting and feedback on the effectiveness of the control measures
  • ensure workers are implementing control measures correctly
  • identify upcoming changes to the workplace environment (layout, shared services etc) or work procedures (new equipment or processes, worker training etc) before they occur, and assess the potential impact on control measures identify and assess possible alternate control measures.

Further information

Mobile plant – SafeWork SA

General guide for workplace traffic management – Safe Work Australia