Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322
Notify WorkSafe Call 1300 366 322

Traffic controller incident

A traffic controller was positioned in the left lane of a public road, directing traffic around road works. A vehicle failed to stop as directed by the controller. The traffic controller was struck by the vehicle and fatally injured.

The configuration of traffic management consisted of speed reduction signs from 60km to 40km and a ‘prepare to stop’ warning sign. There were two traffic controllers present, one at each end of the road works.

Contributing factors

At the time of preparing this safety alert, WorkSafe's investigation found:

  • the traffic controller was standing on the road in the path of vehicle
  • the traffic controller was directing traffic through the site and may not have seen the oncoming vehicle, which was traveling within the same lane.

Action required

Construction work that is on or adjacent to a road (or other traffic corridor) is defined as high risk construction work under the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012. Regulation 299 requires that a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) be prepared that addresses the specific circumstances of the work being performed.

A SWMS must specify the hazards and associated risks relating to the work. It must also describe the measures to be implemented to control the risks and how these control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed.

In determining risk controls, higher order controls must be considered and wherever practicable, traffic controllers are to be isolated from the risk of being struck by vehicles.

Where higher order controls are not reasonably practicable, tapers should be used to provide clear delineation of where traffic must travel. Diagram 1 below illustrates a taper arrangement. The diagram is not to scale and distances between cones and signs should be in accordance with Standard AS1742.3 Manual of uniform traffic control devices Part 3: Traffic control for works on roads.

In addition to tapers, the traffic controller should be positioned so that they can see both ends of the work area and not be in the path of oncoming traffic. The traffic controller should have a clear view of approaching vehicles to a distance of at least one and half times the speed limit in metres (eg if the speed limit is 60km/h, the traffic controller should have a clear view of at least 90 metres).

This image shows a diagram using symbols to explain the layout of a workplace. There is a road  running horizontally and in the centre of the image, with symbols showing traffic speed limits, men at work and workers.

A taper arrangement. The diagram is not to scale and distances between cones and signs should be in accordance with Standard AS1742.3 Manual of uniform traffic control devices Part 3: Traffic control for works on roads.

Resources

How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice

Safe work method statements


First published 24 April 20163

Updated: 9th December 2019