Workers can be at risk of serious injury due to hazards involving vehicles and mobile equipment at industrial workplaces.
Various types of vehicles, including tractors, trucks and mobile equipment such as forklifts, tow buggies and pallet walkies can be found in industrial workplaces. Incidents involving these vehicles have resulted in worker injuries, deaths and damage to property. There have also been a number of “near misses” in which incidents could have occurred.
Duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Employers, supervisors, and workers have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Regulation for Industrial Establishments. Below are some duties that apply to vehicle/mobile equipment and visibility hazards.
- Ensure workers are provided with information, training and supervision to protect their health and safety. This may include training vehicle operators on a workplace’s rules for safe operation of vehicles, such as for speed limits, stopping at intersections, and hand and horn signals.
- Ensure equipment and protective devices are maintained in good condition.
- Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers. This may include developing a traffic management program to protect vehicle operators and nearby workers, or other controls such as those mentioned below.
- Use barriers, warning signs or other safeguards for the protection of all workers in areas where vehicle or pedestrian traffic may endanger the safety of any worker.
- Use competent signallers when required and ensure they are stationed in the correct position.
- Ensure lifting devices and mobile equipment are operated only by competent persons or by a worker who is being instructed and accompanied by a competent person.
- Ensure artificial lighting is provided if there is inadequate natural lighting, and that shadows and glare are reduced to a minimum.
- Ensure mobile equipment has head lights and tail lights to provide adequate illumination when lighting conditions are poor.
- Ensure unattended vehicles are immobilized and secured against accidental movement.
- Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers.
- Ensure workers comply with the OHSA and Regulation for Industrial Establishments, including ensuring workers use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer.
- Advise workers of the existence of any potential or actual hazards of which the supervisor is aware. This may include traffic hazards.
- Report any traffic-related hazards, as well as any contraventions, to your supervisor or employer.
- Work in compliance with the OHSA and Regulations for Industrial Establishments.
- Use or wear the personal protective equipment that your employer requires to be used or worn.
- Do not use or operate equipment or machines or work in a manner that may endanger yourself or any other worker.
When possible, engineering controls should be developed and implemented to separate moving vehicles from nearby workers on foot. Administrative controls should be considered when separation of vehicles and nearby workers is not possible. Administrative controls could include rules of the road, markings and signage, use of signallers, and personal protective equipment (high visibility clothing). The following are recommended best practices that an employer can consider implementing to protect a worker from vehicle/mobile equipment and visibility hazards.
- Designate routes for workers who work in close proximity to moving vehicles so they avoid vehicle traffic.
- Install assistive devices on vehicles or in the workplace that can improve visibility:
- devices such as convex mirrors at intersections and warning lights to indicate the presence of vehicles/workers in the workplace.
- devices on vehicles such as mirrors, proximity sensing/viewing devices such as cameras, reversing alarms, communication radios and warning lights.
- Eliminate or be aware of blind spots on vehicles, especially when equipment is in a raised position.
- Ensure computer displays or other equipment added to a vehicle’s cab meet manufacturers’ recommendations and are sized and located so they do not interfere with an operator’s view.
- Create a Traffic Management Program: A written traffic management program for workplace traffic can reduce the risk of incidents involving vehicles and nearby workers. The program could address site and task-specific risks and should contain the following components:
- Before creating the program, a workplace traffic assessment is recommended to identify:
- vehicle routes and walking routes for nearby workers
- areas with greater collision risk due to the type of vehicle, pedestrian activities and/or area layout.
- All workers must be trained on the program. Temporary workers and contractors must also be aware of the program.
- Interactive training should be provided to help operators and nearby workers see and understand what an operator can and cannot see. For example, trainers may want to have workers sit in the driver’s seat to better understand visibility limitations.
- Safety Standard for Lift Trucks (CSA Standard B335-04 (R2012)) has guidance on traffic management.
- Implement communication protocols, warning signs or other safeguards to protect workers around vehicle traffic.
- Monitor compliance with the program. This should be done by supervisors and could include observations at important intersections or along passageways, observations of vehicle markings and reflective striping on workers and/or monitoring of radio traffic.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Provide workers in close proximity to vehicles with high visibility apparel.
- The CSA High-visibility Safety Apparel Standard (Z96-09) provides guidance on colours and reflective striping.
- Where hard hats are provided by the employer, consider adding reflective striping and lights to hard hats in dark conditions.
Some questions for employers to consider
- Is there a written traffic management program in place?
- Have you completed an assessment to identify hazards and ensure appropriate traffic management measures and procedures have been identified and implemented?
- Are you ensuring the reporting of “near miss” incidents with vehicles and pedestrians to assist you in traffic planning?
- What measures and procedures have been taken to separate vehicle traffic from workers on foot?
- Do you have measures and procedures to ensure safe interaction between vehicles, equipment and workers on foot?
- Has your workplace’s Joint Health and Safety Committee or Worker Health and Safety Representative been consulted?
- Have workers been trained in these measures and procedures?
- Are contractors and other visitors to your workplace aware of the vehicle hazards and instructed to follow the necessary measures and procedures for their safety?
- Have you considered if specific equipment or vehicles could assist in safe interaction and collision avoidance at the workplace?
- Have you identified situations where your workplace requires the use of a competent signaller?
- Have you ensured that any displays or other equipment added to the vehicle meet manufacturers’ recommendations and don’t interfere with the operator’s view?
- Have you determined if workers need PPE such as high-visibility apparel to enhance their visibility to vehicle or equipment operators?
Ministry of Labour
Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations
CAN/CSA-B335-15 – Safety Standard for Lift Trucks
CSA Z96-15 – High-visibility Safety Apparel
Call 1-877-202-0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for general questions about workplace health and safety. Always call 911 in an emergency.