Creating a safe workplace


The law places several responsibilities upon those operating a workplace to make sure that transport safety has been considered. Here are the main things you should think about.

The law requires that a workplace be maintained efficiently and should be in good working order. The law also requires that the floor and roads in a workplace be kept free from obstructions.

Materials that fall on to a road that might pose a risk to safety should be removed as soon as possible.


Design and layout of road systems

Plan traffic routes to give the safest route between places where vehicles have to call.

Make traffic routes wide enough for the safe movement of the largest vehicle permitted to use them, including visiting vehicles and taking into account likely obstructions like parked vehicles.

Use one-way systems if you can. They are much safer, and easy to signpost and enforce.

Avoid traffic routes passing close to vulnerable things (like fuel or chemical tanks, or pipes), or any open and unprotected edge.

Do not allow vehicles to pass close to anything that is likely to collapse or be left in a dangerous state if it is hit, unless it is well protected.

Ensure that there are safe areas for loading and unloading

Avoid sharp or blind bends on vehicle routes wherever possible.

Junctions and rail crossings should be avoided if possible, and be clearly signposted and marked to show right of way (the train always has right of way at a level crossing).

Make entrances and gateways wide enough. Where possible there should be enough space for a vehicle (for example a breakdown or courier) to stop without causing obstruction.

Set sensible speed limits and clearly signpost them. Where necessary, use suitable speed reduction measures, for example road humps or bollards to restrict the width of road.

Give prominent warning of any height restrictions, both in advance and at the obstruction itself. Any potentially dangerous obstructions such as overhead electric cables etc., need to be protected.

Where possible, mark and signpost the routes on open areas or yards.

A signaller (banksman) may be needed to supervise vehicle movements.

Provide screens or other protection for people who are at risk from exhaust fumes, or to protect people from anything that might fall from a vehicle.

Restrict access to vehicles where dangerous substances (like petrol or hazardous chemicals) are stored, and where vehicles are refuelled.

Where maintenance work has to be carried out on or near roads, vehicle traffic should be kept away from those doing the work. This may involve the use of cones or barriers, or closing the route.

[Back to top]

Construction of roads

The law requires that traffic routes have a surface suitable to the purpose of the route, and that they should be free of obstructions, or anything that might make a person slip or trip over.

Wherever possible, roads should:

  • Be constructed of tarmac, concrete or another suitable material.
  • Have firm and even surfaces, and be properly drained.
  • Overly steep slopes should be avoided.
  • Steep slopes, if they are unavoidable, should be properly signposted.
  • Slopes should especially be avoided in areas where lift trucks and other similar plant operate, unless they are designed to operate on gradients.

Roadways should be maintained to provide good grip for vehicle (for example gritting in icy conditions).

Potholes should not be allowed to develop, and if they are found they should be repaired promptly.

Roadsigns and markings

The law requires that all traffic routes be suitably signposted. Signposting should be clear and visible.

Roadsigns should comply with The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 1994, which are set out in The Highway Code.

It may be useful to provide a plan of the workplace at the entrance, and at other appropriate points, indicating vehicle routes, one-way systems etc. This would be particularly useful at workplaces that have visiting drivers.

Potential dangers may need to be indicated by suitable warning signs. Such hazards may include:

  • Sharp bends
  • Junctions
  • Crossings
  • Blind corners
  • Steep gradients
  • Roadworks

Signs may be necessary to inform pedestrians of hazards and the routes they should use, and to tell drivers about route restrictions.

Signs and lighting should be kept clean and well maintained so that they are always visible.

Where signs have to be visible in darkness, they will need to be reflective and ideally illuminated.

Road markings should be renewed when they fade.

[Back to top]

Temporary workplaces and unprepared roadways

Temporary workplaces, (for example some construction sites or forestry operations), often have routes for vehicles and pedestrians which change as the work progresses.

It is important that these routes, including any intended changes, are carefully planned, as they should comply with the same basic safety standards as permanent routes.

It is important for employers to make sure that all drivers and pedestrians know which routes they should use.

Many workplaces, (for example construction sites, quarries, farms, etc.) contain 'unprepared' routes such as unsurfaced roads or open ground for vehicle traffic. These routes should conform to the same basic standards as 'prepared' roads, (ie they should be suitable for their purpose, have firm and even surfaces, be properly drained, and should avoid steep slopes).

Temporary roadways and unprepared routes can increase the risk of accidents. Consequently, there will usually need to be an increased emphasis on:

  • Driver competence.
  • The provision of information and instruction for drivers
  • Traffic management, for example the use of temporary road signs and traffic lights.
  • Supervision of drivers, vehicle activities and other employees.

Increased preventive safety checks may also be necessary, as unprepared roads may cause more wear and tear to a vehicle.

Safety banks may be needed on some routes to prevent vehicles running over open edges, or to indicate a safe route. They should be high and wide enough to stop a vehicle, and to absorb its impact should it run into the barrier.


Provide separate routes or pavements for pedestrians, to keep them away from vehicles.

Provide suitable barriers or guard rails

If both pedestrians and vehicles use traffic routes, they should be wide enough to allow vehicles to pass pedestrians safely, and any pedestrian or vehicle only areas should be clearly marked.

Where pedestrian and vehicle routes cross, appropriate crossing points should be provided, should be clearly marked, protected, and equipped, and their use should be enforced.

Where crowds of people are likely to walk on to roadways, for example at the end of a shift, it might be best to stop vehicles from using these routes altogether at these times

There should be separate doors for vehicles and people, with vision panels on all doors.

On routes used by both automatic, driverless vehicles and pedestrians, steps should be taken to ensure that vehicles do not trap pedestrians:

  • Safeguards should be fitted to vehicles
  • There should be plenty of space between vehicles and people

If the public have access to the premises, routes for public use should:

  • be separate from work activities wherever possible
  • be as close as possible to where the public are likely to want to go (for example to visit a farm or factory shop)
  • Routes for the public should be clearly signposted

[Back to top]

Parking areas

Wherever practical, parking areas should be provided for all vehicles using the workplace - including private vehicles.

The type of parking area will depend on what vehicles are used at the workplace (including visiting vehicles), where they go and what they are used for.

Parking areas should be placed in safe and suitable locations.

Parking areas should:

  • Be clearly signposted
  • Be Firm
  • Be Level
  • Be well lit (if possible)
  • Not be slippery

Drivers leaving parked vehicles should not have to cross potentially dangerous work areas.

Loading bays

Loading bays should be in safe and suitable places wherever possible, for example next to marshalling areas so that vehicles can be manoeuvred easily, or near sheeting areas.

Loading bays should have at least one pedestrian exit: wide loading bays usually need at least two exit points (one at each end); alternatively, a refuge can be provided to prevent people being struck by vehicles.
The edges of loading bays will need to be clearly marked.

Where there is a danger of people falling, loading bays need to be fenced, for example by secure guardrails (designed so that goods can be passed safely over or under them). If fencing is not practical, alternative safeguards may be needed.

It may also be necessary to provide protection against bad weather (for example strong winds can be very dangerous during loading).

[Back to top]


The law requires that a workplace must have enough and suitable lighting.

For transport safety, all roads, manoeuvring areas and yards should be sufficiently lit.

Areas around junctions, buildings, plant, pedestrian areas, and places where there is regular movement of vehicles will require special attention.

Glare from the sun can sometimes be a problem for drivers. Measures may be needed to avoid this (for example sun visors).

Measures may also be needed to avoid a strong change in the amount of light between the inside and outside of buildings.

Is this page useful?