Working close to traffic is dangerous. Each roadside work zone has its own unique set of hazards associated with roads, traffic, vehicles, weather, and work activities. Employers, supervisors and prime contractors need to identify potential hazards and use the hierarchy of controls to put the appropriate level of controls1 in place to protect workers from those hazards. They also need to ensure workers know the hazards and how to protect themselves.
Preparing to work at the roadside
When preparing to work roadside, start by asking yourself these key questions:
- Is there a prime contractor? If yes, have they determined the scope of work, including identification of hazards and the risks they pose to roadside workers?
- Has the prime contractor coordinated the identified controls for these risks with the firm providing traffic control?
- Has the supervisor done a hazard assessment of the work zone and communicated it to all workers on-site?
- Have any required regulations been reviewed to determine the requirements of this work zone, such as the the 2020 Traffic Management Manual for Work on Roadways, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and other WorkSafeBC regulations, and municipal bylaws?
Requirements for a safe work zone
Next, ensure you have the following:
- If needed, a documented layout for the work zone, which addresses site-specific hazards.
- The proper temporary traffic control devices, such as cones, barriers, signs, and other devices, in good working condition and placed in position according to the work zone layout.
- Safe work procedures for the work zone, including how and when workers will communicate with each other, how to work around mobile equipment and vehicles, and other details.
- An emergency plan for the work zone.
- All workers have the required high-visibility clothing and all other required personal protective equipment (PPE).
- All workers have received the adequate and required training and a safety briefing.
What workers need to know and do
Your workers need to understand:
- The work zone layout, if a layout is required.
- Hazards of the work zone, including mobile equipment or work vehicles.
- Safe work procedures for roadside work.
- Communication procedures in the work zone.
- Safe work procedures for working around mobile equipment and work vehicles.
- Emergency procedures.
- How to report near misses and other safety incidents.
Your workers need to ensure:
- Their vehicles are stocked with the signs, cones, and other traffic control devices that they may need.
- They know how to set up a safe work zone: i.e. how to place traffic warning signs and other devices.
- They know how to identify and address all potential hazards once they arrive at their work zone.
Other important things to do
- Identify a person responsible for the work zone set-up. This person needs to have the authority to take corrective action as required (i.e. to modify the work zone set-up to address on-site hazards).
- If traffic control persons (TCPs) are required, ensure they are adequately trained and carry proof of training while on the job (see section 5.3.2 in the 2020 Traffic Management Manual).
- Ensure that workers stand in a safe position as specified in section 5.6.5 of the 2020 Traffic Management Manual.
- Identify hazards and controlled risks associated with job activities, in addition to vehicle and traffic hazards. (See checklist templates below and on the downloadable PDF.)
- Have a plan to regularly inspect the work zone to ensure proper set-up.
Hazard identification checklist for employers and supervisors
At your work zone, fill in the hazard identification checklist before work begins. The checklist is a general guideline, and although it includes potential hazards it is not an exhaustive list. Use the blank rows at the bottom of the table to list other hazards that are present in your work zone. The checklist should be completed by both the employer and prime contractor.
To access the checklist (fillable PDF format), click on the thumbnail below.