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How To Ensure Safe Construction Site Access

How to ensure safe construction site access

Construction sites present a risk where moving vehicles, plant and heavy machinery need to function alongside the workforce, tradespeople and visitors – hence the vital need to have rigorous traffic management protocols in place.

Here we explain the most crucial risk mitigation factors, and how you can ensure that both traffic and people move around your site safely.

Construction Sites – Vehicular Risks

Every site will require vehicles to have access, either from time to time or throughout each working day.

These include:

  • Cars and staff vehicles.
  • Delivery lorries and vans.
  • Mobile plant, such as excavators, dumpers and lift trucks.
  • Low-loaders for equipment movement.

It is essential to direct traffic via pre-planned routes, delineate between pedestrian and vehicle pathways, and to ensure every site user is aware of the safety regulations in place.

Pedestrian Access to Construction Sites

One of the most important ways to avoid accidents or near misses is to separate vehicles from pedestrians and communicate how different areas have been designated.

This should take place during site planning and risk assessment. Access routes should also be reviewed where the site layout changes or primary areas of work are moved.

Some of the ways to separate pedestrians from vehicles are:

  • Using separate entryways and exits so that people and vehicles use different site access points.
  • Providing well-lit pedestrian walkways, ideally with guardrails or barriers.
  • Installing pedestrian crossings where people must cross the path of vehicles, with high-quality lighting and signage.
  • Removing barriers to clear lines of sight, so drivers leaving or entering the site can easily see oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
  • Ensuring all roadways and pathways are clear from hazards or blockages.
  • Using concrete barriers to prevent vehicle access in some areas.

By ensuring that pedestrian access is separated from vehicle routes, the risk is immediately reduced. However, to be effective, this must be clearly signposted and the policies communicated to all site visitors.

Controlling Vehicle Movements On-Site

While it is essential for vehicles to have site access, by controlling and designating specific areas for them to use, the risk of collisions becomes further reduced.

It is vital to decide on how, when, and how frequently vehicles may have site access, and to control vehicle movements according to a predetermined schedule.

For example:

  • Installing staff parking away from the main site of work, with well-maintained pathways for access on foot.
  • Managing vehicle access to the site around restricted times, for example, issuing booking slots for deliveries, or scheduling material deliveries at specific times of the day.
  • Ensuring the site footprint has been well planned to minimise intersections of pedestrian walkways and vehicle routes.
  • Using high-quality lighting to illuminate vehicle barriers, guardrails, crossings, pedestrian areas and work sites.

Other risks emerge where vehicles have to park, turn, or reverse. These activities present reduced visibility, and so managing this is crucial.

Options include:

  • One-way traffic routes to avoid bottle-necks, turning in tight circles, or vehicles trying to enter and exit the site simultaneously.
  • Using turning circles in a non-pedestrian area with sufficient room for HGVs to turn safely.
  • Employing a site supervisor, vehicle controller or signalperson with responsibility for directing and managing vehicle movements.

Construction Site Vehicle Safety

Sites can be busy, large and diverse locations, and so using driving aids and vehicle safety enhancements can assist drivers.

Examples of vehicle safety assets are:

  • Additional mirrors or cameras to assist with tight manoeuvres.
  • Reversing alarms to ensure drivers are alerted to potential risks.
  • Appointing a marshall or vehicle controller to direct traffic.
  • Installing adequate lighting to ensure drives can see other vehicles and pedestrians easily.

Managing Pedestrian Access to Construction Sites

Once vehicles are well controlled and enter and exit the site according to a defined set of policies, it is also necessary to consider how pedestrians use the site and how access is controlled.

This requirement applies both to workers and site managers, and to visitors or members of the public who may have access to the location.

Workforce members must be:

  • Vetted and checked before appointment to ensure that all drivers or machine operators have the appropriate qualifications and experience.
  • Assigned training days or courses with the opportunity to practise any complicated site-specific manoeuvres or variances in the machinery in use.
  • Aware of the protocols for site visitor permissions, vehicle delivery slots, and the correct walkways to use when accessing different parts of the site.
  • Assigned appropriate PPE, including high visibility clothing.

Visitors must be:

  • Advised of the site safety protocols, and be provided with instructions about pedestrian access areas, and emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Issued with a visitor badge, high visibility clothing, PPE as required, and ideally be escorted around the site.

The critical factor in construction site traffic management is to run through a comprehensive risk assessment process to identify where risks arise and thus decide the best way to mitigate or remove that risk, without impeding site activities.

Simple measures such as high-visibility clothing, clear signage and established vehicle management procedures ensure that all site users can carry out their jobs without safety risks.

Even the most robust safety strategies are ineffective if not communicated well. Therefore, construction site managers must ensure that all personnel, visitors and contractors are clear about the rules on site, understand which areas are pedestrianised, and are monitored to ensure that safety procedures are always followed.