State and Federal Governments have committed expenditure on infrastructure projects as a remedy for the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic.
For those projects that will need to be delivered in ‘live’ conditions, it will mean that construction workers must contend with vehicle activity on the road network, presenting risks when passing or working on these construction sites.
Both community and industry have a role to play in managing these risks:
For community, we must lead by example and obey the speed limits applicable through construction areas. These limits influence the design and implementation of mitigation measures to safeguard workers. Exceeding these limits renders mitigation measures ineffective, and in the event of an incident, jeopardises safety for all.
For industry, the focus must be on designing and installing barrier systems that are effective at intercepting and redirecting errant vehicles from the work zone, as well as minimising damage and injury to the vehicle occupants.
Whilst successful application requires an advanced understanding of barrier systems, we highlight three considerations that must be front of mind during design and installation:
Barrier type: Nominate road authority approved barrier systems. Where alternate products are used to delineate work zones, these should be identified on a traffic management plan and on site as “NOT A SAFETY BARRIER”, to ensure workers do not draw a sense of security that they will be protected from an errant vehicle.
Barrier length: Barrier length must be adequate to shield the hazard, or an errant vehicle may miss the barrier string. Where this is not possible, other mitigation methods should be adopted.
Clearance: Design to ensure that sufficient setback is provided between the work area and barrier system. This is to enable the barrier to deflect clear of excavations, obstructions, people, plant etc. A 'no-go zone' should be clearly delineated on-site to identify this clearance work workers.
Avoid unconnected barriers: The risk of a vehicle breaching the barrier and entering the work zone is increased when the combined mass of the barrier is not achieved. This occurs when the barrier system is not connected appropriately.
Ground conditions: When installing the system, one must consider the surface and foundation conditions as a barrier may topple over or snag during impact.
End treatment: Exposed barrier ends can be a major hazard and cause serious injury to road users if struck. Ensure site suitable end treatments are installed.
In our built-up environment, it is often difficult and impractical to achieve all requirements of a temporary barrier system. However, their use is often preferred to mitigate risk and advice should be sought from a road safety professional.
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