Traffic routes

Key messages

By law:

  • Every traffic route in a workplace must have a driving surface that is suitable for its purpose.
  • The surface of any traffic route must not be so uneven, potholed, sloped or slippery that any person could slip, trip or fall.

Questions to ask

When you plan a traffic route, your risk assessment should include answers to these questions:

  • Where does the traffic route go?
  • What potential hazards are on the route?
  • Is the road surface suitable for the load?
  • Does the route slope?


Hazards along a route may include:

  • bends;
  • junctions;
  • fuel or chemical tanks or pipes;
  • gates or barriers;
  • overhead electricity cables;
  • any unprotected edge from which vehicles could fall, or where they could become unstable, such as unfenced edges of elevated weighbridges, loading bays or excavations;
  • anything that might collapse or be left in a dangerous condition if a vehicle hits it; or
  • anything that might catch on or dislodge a load.

To avoid these hazards:

  • Minimise road and route junctions.
  • Provide clear signed warning of any height or width restriction – both in advance and at the obstruction itself.
  • Protect dangerous obstructions with goalposts, height gauge posts or barriers.
  • If gates or barriers are to stay open, secure them in position.


A steep gradient can affect:

  • the driver's ability to handle the vehicle (especially if the surface is slippery);
  • how easily spills can be contained; and
  • how easy it is to manage wheeled objects such as waste containers, roll cages or pallet handlers.

Some vehicles can become unstable on slopes. Examples include:

  • some lift trucks;
  • raised-tipper lorries;
  • raised-body tankers involved in transferring powder or bulk solids; and
  • vehicles with a trailer containing liquids (such as a bowser or a slurry tanker), but without effective baffles to stop the liquid surging around.

For road tanker loading and unloading, a maximum gradient of 1 in 30 is recommended to make sure the vehicle moves as little as possible, and help to contain any spillages.

Steep slopes can also make loads less stable, especially if the loads are stacked or if they are unstable anyway (for example, wire coils or reels, barrels).

Take care that loads moved on slopes cannot move dangerously.

Even where vehicles can safely use sloping surfaces, avoid slopes steeper than 1 in 10.


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