Temporary workplaces and unprepared roadways

Key messages

  • Temporary workplaces and unprepared roadways should meet the same basic safety standards as 'prepared' routes.
  • As temporary routes are usually less safe than 'prepared' ones you may need to pay more attention to driver competence, information, safe systems of work, supervision and traffic management.

Temporary workplaces (for example, construction sites and forestry operations) and other types of site (for example, some farms) often have routes for vehicles and pedestrians that change as work progresses, or 'unprepared' routes such as unsurfaced roads or open ground. It is important that you plan these routes carefully, including any intended changes, as they should meet the same basic safety standards that apply to 'prepared' routes. In other words, they should be suitable for their purpose, have firm and even surfaces, be properly drained, and have no slopes that are too steep.

Questions to ask

Your risk assessment should include answers to these questions:


Many common surfaces on temporary roadways can suffer from 'ponding' (standing water gathering). The condition of these surfaces will quickly get worse in wet conditions if they are not properly drained. Try to make sure that temporary routes follow natural contours of the ground wherever possible, that so natural drainage works for you, not against you.

Longer sloping roads will benefit from a varying slope, rather than a constant gradient, as this will help prevent water from ponding at the bottom of the slope.

Drainage features will need to be large enough, and spaced apart, so they can deal with the greatest expected demands on them.


Temporary roadways and unprepared routes can increase the risk of accidents. For example:

  • Vehicles are more likely to overturn on uneven ground.
  • Drivers might not be sure where to drive if there are no road markings (for example, on gravel roads).
  • Roads with poor surface friction can affect stopping distances.

You may need to place more emphasis on:

  • drivers' competence in dealing with the sorts of hazards found on unprepared routes;
  • providing information and instruction to drivers, especially if they are not familiar with the temporary roadways;
  • safe systems of work and traffic management – for example, using temporary road signs and traffic lights;
  • supervising drivers, vehicle activities and other employees; and
  • preventive checks to make sure that vehicles do not develop faults while working on unprepared roadways.


You may need safety banks on some routes to prevent vehicles from running over open edges, or to show a safe route. We recommend that a bank should be at least 1.5 m tall or the axle height of the largest vehicle using the route (whichever is more) and be strong enough to withstand a vehicle hitting it. Or, if large rocks are used to form a safety bank, the rocks will need to be high enough and thick enough to withstand a vehicle hitting them.


Sometimes people have to work on public roads. These are temporary workplaces, and you can find more about them.

Find out more about workplace transport guidance that is specific to the construction industry.

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