Safe traffic management on a scaffolding site

Chris Pendrey, SHEQ manager at Actavo Direct, outlines how you can control traffic on-site to avoid injury while also avoiding disruption and keeping processes efficient.

Recent research from the Building Safety Group shows a 74 per cent rise in traffic management breaches on construction sites, putting scaffolding contractors at risk of colliding with vehicles and machinery.

Visibility is key

For contractors working at height and on busy sites, visibility is crucial. One misplaced step or an unseen operative could result in a serious incident.

The best solution is to provide consistent lighting around the site at all times. Those working on scaffolding towers will benefit from agile safety lighting that can be attached to tubing, masts and cranes to keep all areas adequately lit. Overhead mast lighting is powerful enough to illuminate walkways, keeping workers alert to trip hazards, falling objects and oncoming vehicles.

However, it’s not just pedestrians that benefit from a well-lit site. With machinery and vehicles such as forklifts often suffering from blind spots, drivers need help seeing what’s around them.

Other recommended precautions include lining vehicle routes with reflective traffic cones and using safety signs. Illuminated or reflective signs can be used around the site to guide traffic, label different areas, alert staff to hazards and warn the need for safety equipment.

They’re safer apart

According to the Building Safety Group, the most common cause of traffic management incidents is a failure to keep pedestrians and drivers safely separated. With workers entering and navigating the site by car or foot and operating mobile machinery – plus the added traffic of deliveries and visitors driving onto site – it’s vital that routes are clearly outlined and heavily signed.

Start by drawing up traffic flow designs, including allocating vehicle and pedestrian lanes, and parking areas and loading areas. Once they’ve been approved, use traffic management solutions to implement them. Traffic separator blocks provide a sturdy enough barrier to keep vehicles out of the way of one another, and a safe distance from scaffolding towers or workers. Many products can be filled with water or sand, making them heavy enough to withstand strong winds or bumps from vehicles.

There’s plenty to consider when it comes to organising on-site traffic, including whether to use one-way or dual lanes. One-way lanes are safer; however, depending on the size of your site, you could send drivers on a long round-trip. An option for combatting this is to add designated turning circles in driving lanes so vehicles can manoeuvre without risking crossing into other lanes or colliding with pedestrians.

What’s always important is choosing the safest route, not the quickest or most convenient.

Special considerations

Scaffolding sites aren’t permanent, so it’s important to make both the team and the site adaptable to sudden change.

One of the easiest ways to stay agile to on-site changes is ensuring all contractors and visitors are kitted out with full health and safety gear. Workers in hi-vis jackets will still be clearly visible even if traffic flow is suddenly redirected.

Sites should also be adaptable to visitors, deliveries and periods of heavier traffic. One way to ensure this is using a mix of heavier, more permanent barriers along with lighter, moveable traffic cones. In instances of heavy traffic, use cones to create temporary traffic lanes or pedestrian routes to alleviate congestion.

Visitors and deliveries won’t be aware of the safest routes on-site, so it’s important to allocate set routes for entering drivers. Each route should be fitted with precautions such as speed-limit signs and mirrors where larger vehicles are likely to have blind spots or lanes are narrow.

When allocating a delivery spot, make sure there’s enough room for large objects to be safely lifted off the truck. Scaffolding tubes, boards and towers can be awkward, so allow room for vehicles to turn safely without endangering surrounding workers.

Chris Pendrey

SHEQ Manager

Actavo Direct

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