Material handling blitz #2: 6 steps to implement a traffic management plan

Sep 04, 2015

Forklift safetyTraffic management plans are a priority for Ministry of Labour inspectors visiting workplaces during the current material handling blitz, which runs from September 14 to October 23. These plans are also good for business: they help eliminate or control the risk of collisions, allowing you to move goods within your facility safely and efficiently. "It's all part of a managed health and safety system," says WSPS technical consultant Chuck Leon.

Why things go wrong

Serious damage, property loss and potentially catastrophic injuries can happen when moving goods for a number of reasons, including:

  • poor visibility due to inadequate lighting and blind spots, especially on loading docks,
  • a lack of traffic procedures, such as when to yield right of way, and traffic controls, such as convex mirrors at corners and clearly marked walkways,
  • excessive noise levels that block out the sound of operating equipment and reversing alarms,
  • distractions, such as using electronic devices while operating equipment or walking through an area in which lifting devices are active.

How to put a traffic management plan in place, or review an existing planWork shouldn't work

Here are six next steps suggested by Chuck Leon and WSPS consultant and account manager Jennifer MacFarlane.

  1. Understand how traffic in your workplace flows. What routes do lifting device operators take? Who has reason to be in these operators’ traffic zone? Include people performing other work, travelling from one part of the facility to another, or moving between workstations and break areas. Consider both "intra-modal" and "multi-modal" interactions.
  2. Identify all potential contact points. Include delivery yards and overhead hazards, such as conveyors, cranes, ductwork, lighting systems, and walkways.
  3. Assess the contact hazards, prioritize, and implement controls. See "Controls…" below.
  4. Involve workers. They can often tell you where the biggest problems are and offer cost-effective solutions.
  5. Provide pedestrian safety training to everyone having a reason to be in traffic areas. During training, put anyone who isn't a lifting device operator in the driver’s seat so they understand what the driver can and cannot see. Add pedestrian safety to your orientation training for all new employees.
  6. Add a traffic management checklist to the monthly inspections conducted by your joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative.

Controls that support a traffic management plan

Each of these suggestions can improve safety and productivity.

  • Change traffic routes to reduce or eliminate contact points.
  • Ensure traffic routes are well lit when in use.
  • Establish pedestrian no-go zones.
  • Control pedestrian traffic by installing barriers, railings and/or designated walkways.
  • Install visual and hearing aids, such as:
    • flashing lights and reverse alarms on vehicles,
    • convex mirrors at corners and intersections,
    • safety signage,
    • floor markers and safety cones, especially for new or temporary traffic changes,
    • clearly marked hazards such as ductwork and cabling,
    • high visibility clothing.

We can help

  • WSPS material handling specialists like Chuck Leon can help you create or upgrade a traffic management plan for your workplace. We also offer related consulting services, such as conducting hazard assessments and developing customized training programs.
  • Add SAFE-LIFT on DVD to your existing training. This self-study training program on the safe operation of various lift trucks includes a section on pedestrian safety.
  • Learn more about the material handling blitz by watching a complimentary webinar featuring Chuck Leon.