For employers and supervisors
- What employers and supervisors need to know
- Employer, supervisor, and prime contractor responsibilities
- Traffic management
- Traffic control persons
- Personal protective equipment
Employers and supervisors are responsible for the safety of employees who are exposed to the hazards of working along roadways and near traffic. Learn your responsibilities and the basics of traffic management, including the use of traffic control devices.
What employers and supervisors need to know
It’s important to meet your legal responsibilities for employee safety because working around traffic can be dangerous. Between 2013 and 2022 in BC, 9 roadside workers were killed after being hit by a vehicle. Another 239 were injured and missed work.
Over the last 10 years, 28,000 work days were lost due to injuries among roadside workers. Claims costs totalled nearly $15 million. See WorkSafeBC Cone Zone statistics for more details.
Projects involving road construction or maintenance, roadside or overhead utility work, and emergency management may need to control traffic. Employers also need to provide drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and those with disabilities with information to guide them through roadside work zones. Learn more in our What Employers Need to Know to Keep Roadside Workers Safe (PDF 307 KB) guide.
Risk assessments, traffic management plans, and safe work procedures can save lives. Learn more in our Work Zone Planning Tool Kit for employers.
Any employee who works at the side of a road for any reason and for any amount of time counts as a roadside worker.
Roadside work involves far more than road construction and maintenance crews. Hundreds of other workers can be at the roadside too. Traffic control persons, garbage collectors, municipal workers, utility workers, first responders, moving crews, landscapers, tow truck operators, truck drivers, and conservation officers are some other examples.
Some people work in roadside work zones full time, others are there part time, and some only occasionally. A driver who pulls over to the side of the road to secure a load, for example, is a roadside worker while they’re doing that job.
There are 5 types of roadside work:
- Emergent: Quick response to an unanticipated occurrence, other than an emergency. This applies to any work completed in less than 5 minutes.
- Brief duration: Planned work that requires 15 minutes or less to complete.
- Short duration: Planned work that requires more than 15 minutes during a single daylight period to complete.
- Long duration: Planned work that requires more than 1 daylight period to complete, or night work.
- Mobile: Continuously slow-moving work or intermittently moving work with stops of 30 minutes or less.
These terms are used to determine specific traffic control requirements for the work.
Employer, supervisor, and prime contractor responsibilities
Employers, supervisors, and prime contractors all have work zone safety responsibilities set out by WorkSafeBC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI). You need to help keep employees and road users safe while keeping traffic flowing efficiently.
WorkSafeBC’s requirements are set out in Part 18: Traffic Control in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (the Regulation).
MoTI’s requirements are laid out in the 2020 Traffic Management Manual for Work on Roadways (the TMM).
The two sets of regulations align in most sections, but not all. For example, the TMM covers work zone policies and procedures while Part 18 has extra requirements for educating and supervising workers.
Employers need to refer to and comply with Part 18 and the TMM. If their guidelines are different, follow Part 18 to comply with WorkSafeBC.
Review the following summaries.
You have workplace health and safety responsibilities related to your employees wherever they do their job. In roadside work zones, that includes ensuring effective traffic control whenever vehicles could be hazardous to a worker.
Part 18: Traffic Control is intended to keep all workers away from traffic by identifying risks and managing them based on the order of controls. They focus on the use of barriers and other traffic control devices, and limit the use of traffic control persons.
Part 18 requires you to comply with the TMM. It also requires you to complete a risk assessment in certain cases before work starts.
If the project is emergent or brief duration work, you need to develop written work procedures and ensure workers follow them. For short duration or long duration work, you need to have a written risk assessment. Based on what the assessment shows, you may need to have a written traffic control plan.
Qualified supervisors need to ensure that:
- Traffic control plans are implemented
- Traffic control persons have the relevant training and site-specific orientation for traffic control before starting work
- Work zones are inspected at intervals appropriate to the risks
Review Part 18 for more detail about your responsibilities, risk assessments, traffic control plans and standards, traffic control persons and devices, and supervision. Learn about the Part 18 updates.
Understand your employer responsibilities for traffic control persons. They include providing workers with the instruction, training, and supervision they need to be safe.
Prime contractors need a system or process that ensures the safety of all workers at a roadside work zone. This responsibility can’t be contracted to another employer.
If your employees drive for work, train them how to drive through roadside work zones safely using our guidelines for all drivers.
MoTI’s 2020 Traffic Management Manual for Work on Roadways (the TMM) applies to all work on provincial roads unless otherwise stated. Parts A and B may also be used for work on municipal roadways.
The TMM lays out fundamental principles, guidelines, and minimum standards for traffic management in roadside work zones. These include the appointment of a traffic control manager and a traffic control supervisor. Each has specific responsibilities, including ensuring compliance with WorkSafeBC’s Part 18.
The TMM includes standards for designing, applying, positioning, installing, maintaining, and inspecting various types of temporary traffic control devices. You’ll also find sample layouts and traffic control plans you can adapt to suit specific work zones.
Traffic management is different for every roadside work zone. A plan for one site won’t be effective for another due to different work activities and road, traffic, and weather conditions. Customized traffic control layouts are often necessary to maintain access and mobility and ensure worker safety.
For example, traffic conditions on urban streets often include lower speeds, a range of traffic volumes, limited manoeuvring space, road configuration/terrain, frequent turns and cross-movements, significant pedestrian and cyclist movement, and other obstructions.
Traffic conditions on rural highways often include higher speeds and fewer access points.
In all cases, effective traffic management protects workers and accommodates road users. It covers 4 primary issues for your project:
- What type of work is occurring?
- What is the likelihood of traffic delays?
- What special circumstances must be accommodated?
- What type of traffic control is required for the work?
Review Part A: Traffic Management (PDF 989 KB) in the TMM to learn the basics.
Our Work Zone Planning Tool Kit will show you how to create a traffic management plan and a traffic control plan.
Temporary traffic control devices
Temporary traffic control devices help protect workers and regulate, warn, and guide road users through or around work zones.
When used in combination with other safety controls, these devices can help reduce the risk of a worker being struck by a vehicle. Your organization can also benefit from reduced costs for lost productivity, finding and hiring replacement workers, incident investigation, and insurance.
Job bids can require the use of these devices. The newer equipment is compact and easy to set up, transport, and use. Costs continue to decline as options and availability increase.
Concrete barriers are one of the most effective safety measures. They isolate the work zone and minimize the risk to workers. If they’re not possible, automated flagger assistance devices (AFADs) are recommended.
AFADs have flashing lights and a flagged gate-arm that extends into travel lanes, making them highly visible to road users. They are small enough to be used in areas where the road has narrow shoulders.
These devices are most often used in pairs, with one at each end of the work zone. Once the equipment is set up and synchronized, 1 certified traffic control person (TCP) can operate both remotely. If the devices are more than 250 metres apart or workers can’t see each other, TCPs can be stationed at each end.
Signs, signals, mobile strips, markings, and other devices are also helpful.
Review our temporary traffic control devices guide (PDF 2 MB) for information on the many options. It covers AFADs, dynamic message signs, flashing arrow boards, temporary rumble strips, and crash attenuators. The guide explains how each device can be used and its benefits.
You can also watch our 5-minute video on Improving Worker Safety: Temporary Traffic Control Devices.
Whatever traffic control devices you use, ensure they are in good working condition.
Review Section 4: Temporary Traffic Control Devices (PDF 3.3 MB) in the TMM for more information.
Traffic control persons
Traffic control persons (TCPs) are your last resort for worker safety. Because TCPs are exposed to traffic hazards, they are at significant risk of being injured. They should only be used after determining that other traffic control measures (such as AFADs) wouldn’t be sufficient, or during emergency or brief duration work if signs and other devices and procedures aren’t practical.
A TCP is more than a person with a paddle. They play an important role in assisting employers with the use and deployment of temporary traffic control devices. Their role also includes monitoring the safety of workers and drivers passing through the work zone.
Your responsibilities for TCPs under WorkSafeBC’s Part 18 have changed.
New requirements prohibit TCPs in certain situations, such as when speed limits are greater than 70 km/h. They also specify where a TCP needs to be positioned. They are not allowed to stand in the travelled portion of the roadway or in an intersection.
The requirements for supervising traffic control have been strengthened. You need to conduct site-specific training and orientation for every TCP before work begins, and keep records of the training and safety communications.
TCPs at your work zone should understand and be aware of:
- Your organization’s safe work procedures for roadside work
- Hazards at the work zone and how to protect themselves
- The traffic control layout at the work zone
- Who is responsible for design and set-up of the work zone
- Escape routes in case vehicles cross over into the work zone
- Procedures and contact information in case of an emergency
TCPs need to receive approved training and pass an exam before they’re assigned to a work zone. Training has been revised for all workers involved in controlling traffic, including traffic control persons, traffic assistants, and workers who control traffic at emergency scenes.
TCPs also need to carry proof of training while on the job. Review Section 5.3: Minimum Requirements for TCPs (PDF 3.3MB) in the TMM for more information.
WorkSafeBC has a list of approved TCP training providers you can use.
TCPs need to wear appropriate high visibility garments. You need to inspect the garments regularly to ensure they are clean and in good usable condition.
Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes items such as hard hats, steel-toe work boots, safety glasses, hearing protection and high-visibility garments. PPE is essential for keeping workers safe and provides protection against certain hazards. But PPE doesn’t eliminate risks, so it should be considered the last line of defence against work zone injuries. Use PPE along with physical barriers and other measures.
Everyone working near moving vehicles or mobile equipment needs to wear appropriate high-visibility apparel. It’s your responsibility to provide it. Crews in work zones may require other types of PPE such as safety headgear, hearing protection, or eye protection.
Review your other employer responsibilities for PPE (PDF 102KB), which include training workers in how to use and care for it.
Supervisor responsibilities (PDF 91KB) include ensuring workers have and wear the appropriate apparel, and that they are properly cleaned and maintained.
The type of high-visibility apparel your workers needs will depend on the work zone.
Follow the CSA Standard Z96-15, High-Visibility Safety Apparel. When vehicles or mobile equipment travel:
- Faster than 30 km/h, apparel needs to meet the Class 2 or Class 3 requirements
- At 30 km/h or slower, or workers are behind barricades protecting them from traffic, apparel needs to meet the Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 requirements
Choose garments in consultation with your health and safety committee or worker representative, if you have them. High-visibility apparel can be purchased at many work wear stores and safety supply stores.
Apparel should be fitted to the workers. Consider the size of the person as well as the bulk or thickness of clothing worn underneath.
Ensure that the apparel is worn correctly. It should be fastened with no hanging parts. It also needs to be clean and well-maintained. Dirty or worn fluorescent or retro-reflective materials will be less visible. Replace apparel that shows signs of wear and tear.