Friday 15 December 2017

Put safety first at roadside construction sites

WorkSafe is urging employers, workers and the public to prioritise safety in and around roadside construction work after a recent inspection campaign revealed inadequate safety measures at a number of sites.

 Over 300 inspections across the state have uncovered issues such as inadequate signage for road users and a lack of protective devices for workers managing traffic in and around their workplace.

In some instances, roadside construction teams working in close proximity to each other had not communicated, causing multiple traffic diversions to be put in place and potential confusion for road users. 

The call for safety comes as the number of civil and infrastructure roadwork projects across Victoria increases as the construction sector takes advantage of reduced traffic volumes in many areas over the summer months.

Earlier this month, VicRoads and roadworks firm Downer EDI were convicted and fined a total of $1.55 million over the 2011 death of a traffic controller who was struck and killed by a street sweeper during late-night roadworks in Bayswater.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, cautioned employers, workers and the public to take care as roadworks ramped up in many areas across the state.

“Roadwork activity is inherently high risk as it involves people working in close proximity to heavy machinery and traffic, often in hot, noisy and dusty conditions. Safety is paramount,” Ms Williams said.

“For construction employers this means identifying specific site hazards before starting a project, communicating these to workers and ensuring appropriate traffic management plans are in place and followed by all workers and contractors at the site.”

“For road users it means looking out for workers, being patient and obeying all directions when passing roadworks. It’s important to remember that the sites you see along the roadside are workplaces. Whether you’re a road worker or a road user, safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Ms Williams said employers that failed to keep their workers safe may risk prosecution and significant penalties.

To reduce the risk to workers and road users, employers must ensure:
• A traffic management plan is in place, adhered to and regularly reviewed, and that all workers on site are aware of it including contractors entering the site through different stages of construction.
• Worksites are well-lit, and that adequate signage and barriers exist to warn and direct traffic away from workers.
• Signage is located well in advance of the changed conditions and includes warning of changes to footpaths and bicycle lanes.
• Adequate space is provided for plant set-up and vehicle operation, with appropriate traffic control measures to isolate these from general traffic.
• The risks associated with installing, operating and removing traffic control devices are addressed.
• Environmental conditions such as heat are closely monitored to prevent illness among employees.

More information about traffic management at worksites is available here.

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Peter Flaherty: 0478 881 663, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Kathleen O'Dwyer: 9940 4972, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.