For employers and supervisors

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 2014 and 2023 in BC, 9 roadside workers were killed after being hit by a vehicle. Another 251 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.

Who counts as a roadside worker?
Types of roadside 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.

WorkSafeBC OHS Regulation Part 18
2020 Traffic Management Manual for Work on Roadways

Traffic management

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:

  1. What type of work is occurring?
  2. What is the likelihood of traffic delays?
  3. What special circumstances must be accommodated?
  4. 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.

Employer responsibilities for TCPs
TCP training
TCP clothing

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.

Types of high-visibility apparel
Buying high-visibility apparel
Fitting and maintaining high-visibility apparel



What Employers Need to Know to Keep Roadside Workers Safe

Employers need to provide training, resources, and supervision for employees in work zones. Review this guide to understand your responsibilities, steps to reduce risk, and the requirements for traffic management.
Tool Kit

Work Zone Planning

Every work zone is unique, which means you need to have a specific safety and traffic management plan for each one. Use this tool kit to help you identify hazards, assess risk, and control traffic.

Temporary Traffic Control Devices

Signs, cones, and barriers aren’t the only traffic control devices. Use this guide to review the many available options to help you decide which devices you will use to help reduce worker exposure to traffic.

Roadside Work Preparation Guide

Use this guide to make your plan for a roadside work zone. It includes tips for preparing your crew, a list of possible hazards, and a form you can fill out to help assess the hazards and reduce the risks.

Roadside Work Preparation Checklist

Safety begins before workers get to a roadside zone. Review this checklist with them to help ensure they are prepared, even if they don’t know in advance where the zone will be.
Tailgate Meeting Guide

Set Up and Take Down of Roadside Work Zones

Setting up and taking down a Cone Zone can be one of the most dangerous parts of roadside work. Use this guide to help keep you and your co-workers safe.
Tailgate Meeting Guide

When is Traffic Control Required for Towing and Recovery?

Use this guide to lead a discussion with towing and recovery workers about when traffic control is required during their work, and what they need to do.