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8 tips for managing external traffic

Managing external traffic

A mix of trucks, mobile equipment, pedestrians, bad weather, traffic jams and other potential hazards in your yard can spell disaster in the form of collisions between vehicles or vehicles and pedestrians. "If traffic is left haphazard or unpredictable, oftentimes you’ll see problems," says WSPS Consultant Norm Kramer. Reigning in the chaos means putting an exterior traffic plan in place.

"Since a lot of factors come into play, there is no one-size-fits-all solution," says Norm. "But there are best practices that can help you design your own solution." He offers six tips.

  1. Start with a hazard assessment. "Sometimes companies will focus on hazard assessments inside the warehouse, but overlook the outside," explains Norm. He suggests using the PEMEP principle to identify the unique hazards in your yard. How could People, Equipment, Materials, Environment and Process contribute to hazards?
  2. In your assessment, consider these factors:
    • traffic flow - where, when and how vehicles access and exit site,
    • pedestrian routes and potential vehicle/pedestrian collision points,
    • yard design and layout,
    • impact of weather, such as icy or slushy conditions, or water accumulation,
    • quality of road surfaces and lighting,
    • signage and pavement markings,
    • pedestrian program, communication, training, monitoring and enforcement.
  3. As part of the assessment, talk to anyone with insights on what happens in the yard, such as the shunt driver, gatehouse staff, drivers, workers and other pedestrians, and the joint health and safety committee.
  4. Develop a two-way traffic system that mimics what's used on outside roadways. "Drivers are programmed to follow line markings governed by the Highway Traffic Act - stop signs, solid yellow lines, crossing areas, driving on the right, etc. They should automatically follow them in the yard."
  5. Determine the safest places for people to move from point to point and create pedestrian paths so people move predictably, stay at a distance from trucks, and don't walk in a driver's blind spot.
  6. Ensure potential danger areas where pedestrians and vehicles intersect are well marked. Use signs, lights and a crosshatched border (similar to roadway crosswalks).
  7. Boost visibility. Ensure all pedestrians wear high-visibility reflective vests. "And with trucks often moving in early morning and after dark, keep the yard well lit."
  8. Configure the yard's design and layout to accommodate overflow traffic, prevent bottlenecks and provide room for parking and reversing. Avoid congestion by monitoring scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs.

How WSPS can help

  • WSPS safety experts like Norm Kramer are on hand to help warehouse and distribution centres of any size conduct hazard assessments, identify opportunities and implement solutions. They will look at your yard layout, observe traffic, interview stakeholders, review close calls, and submit recommendations. WSPS also offers personalized workshops on how to identify hazards in your yard and implement controls. Speak with an on-duty consultant: 1-877-494-WSPS (9777).
  • Check out our online library of warehouse safety offerings, including training courses, free downloads and eight streamable videos.
  • Attend "Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Management: Conducting Effective Inspections," a session led by WSPS' Chuck Leon at these regional health and safety conferences: