HAZARDS: Use a Traffic Control Plan to Protect Workers


May 16-23 is National Road Safety Week. So it’s the perfect time to talk about protecting workers when they’re working on or near roads. One of the best ways to protect these workers from getting hit by passing motorists is through a traffic control plan. In fact, the OHS laws in several jurisdictions require the use of such plans. We’ll tell you what factors you should consider when creating a traffic control plan and what that plan should cover.

TRAFFIC CONTROL PLAN FORM: Download a form that you can use to create a traffic control plan that effectively protects your workers.


All of the OHS laws require employers to implement effective traffic control whenever vehicular traffic could endanger workers. Traffic control includes the use of:

  • Signs;
  • Flashing arrow boards;
  • Sign boards;
  • Buffer, shadow or pilot vehicles;
  • Barricades;
  • Cones;
  • Barriers;
  • Lane control devices;
  • Detours;
  • Traffic or flashing lights;
  • Flares;
  • Speed restrictions;
  • Buffer zones;
  • Traffic control persons or signallers; and
  • Other techniques and devices to manage the traffic flow.

BC, NL, ON, QC and SK specifically require employers to adopt traffic control plans. Manitoba requires employers to develop, implement and train workers on safe work procedures that provide effective traffic control, which is essentially the same as a traffic control plan. And New Brunswick requires employers to develop a code of practice for temporary workplace traffic control, which is also the equivalent of a traffic control plan. But even the remaining jurisdictions that don’t specifically require the use of traffic control plans do require you to protect workers from vehicular traffic hazards. Developing and implementing a traffic control plan is a very effective way to comply with this duty.


You should develop a traffic control plan for each work site at which workers may be endangered by vehicular traffic based on the specific conditions and hazards at the particular site. And you should implement this plan before work begins. When creating the plan, there are two groups of factors you should consider:

Site factors. Consider aspects of the work site’s location, including:

  • Road alignment, such as winding, straight, hilly, banked, etc.;
  • Road type, such as divided, undivided, number of lanes, parking permitted along road, etc.;
  • Sight distance—that is, whether motorists view of the work area and workers view of drivers is blocked by signs, trees, buildings or other obstructions;
  • Approaches to the work area, such as hills, curves, intersections, highway accesses, etc.;
  • The length of the work site, including both its total length and the length of the section in which work will actively be done;
  • Speed limit;
  • Traffic volume;
  • Type of traffic—that is, local, tourist, commercial, emergency, bus, etc.;
  • Type of shoulders, including their width and strength;
  • The surrounding land use, such as commercial, industrial, residential, etc.;
  • If the area is residential, identify any driveways, schools, etc.;
  • Weather conditions, such as clear, icy, wet, foggy, limited visibility, etc.; and
  • Site hazards, such as rock falls, avalanche paths, runaway lanes, steep hills, wildlife, etc.

Work factors. You also need to consider factors relating to the work to be done in the road work zone, including:

  • Whether the work will be done on or off the roadway or on the shoulder;
  • The access and egress to the site;
  • Whether the site will be stationary or continually slow moving;
  • The amount and type of site activity;
  • Any changes in the work activity as the project progresses;
  • The planned hours of work;
  • Whether there’s a need for traffic control during off hours;
  • Emergency vehicle access;
  • Equipment access; and
  • Possible motor vehicle accident scenarios and response.

The traffic control plan should set out the measures you’ll take to protect workers from the hazards identified in the assessment. For example, if the speed of vehicular traffic within the work zone typically exceeds the legal speed limit, speed control devices such as pace vehicles or police enforcement should be considered.

Workers who’ll be working in the road work zone should be trained on the traffic control plan for the zone. And a copy of the plan should always be available at the work site for both workers and government inspectors.

TRAFFIC CONTROL PLAN FORM: Download a form that you can use to create a traffic control plan that effectively protects your workers.