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."
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.
Source: Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
Don't wait until it's too late. Be proactive. Think ahead. Be safe.