Traffic Control Safety Considerations

Traffic Control Safety Considerations

Traffic Control Safety Considerations

Traffic Control Safety Introduction

Traffic from vehicles on site and motorists travelling through work areas pose a significant hazard to all workers on site. In addition, workers designated as traffic control persons are also in danger from being struck by vehicles. Employers have a duty and responsibility to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken where traffic needs to be temporarily re-routed or stopped due to work being performed. This includes vehicles visiting the work site as well as motorists having to travel through work zones. The requirements for Traffic Control Safety on sites can be found in Sections 67 – 69.1 of Ontario Regulation 213/91 – Construction Projects. Traffic control safety is based on the Ontario Traffic Manual Book 7: Temporary Conditions. The requirements and diagrams within this manual are used to develop and set up control measures for vehicle traffic in work zones.


The objectives of traffic control safety are:

  • To protect construction workers and the motoring public by regulating traffic flow.
  • To stop traffic whenever required by the progress of work or to keep traffic moving at reduced speeds to avoid tie-ups and delays.
  • To allow construction to proceed safely and efficiently.
  • To ensure that public traffic has priority over construction equipment.

Creating a Traffic control safety Management Plan

The first thing to do is to prepare for the work performed. This is done by creating a traffic management plan, determination of signs and diagrams applicable to the work site and reviewing this plan with the workers on site to ensure everyone has received instruction and information to work safely. The plan must include the following:

  • Preparation
  • Traffic Control Persons (TCPs)
  • Setting Up the Work Zone
  • Working in the Work Zone
  • Monitoring the Work Zone
  • Removal of Work Zone


Preparation is the first step. Make sure you are aware of and understand the following:

  • The type of construction
  • The type of equipment used/operated
  • Worker Protection requirements
  • How public traffic will flow
  • Timing of Project and work performed
  • Road conditions and types (curvy, hills, etc)
  • After dark considerations
  • Positioning
  • Signaling
  • Communications

Traffic Control Persons

Ontario Regulation 213/91 – Construction Projects makes it mandatory for traffic control persons (TCPs) to be protected from hazards. This includes not only wearing PPE but also putting measures and devices in place to guard against the dangers of vehicular traffic. Safety should receive prime consideration in planning for traffic control.

Section 69(4) of the Construction Projects regulation (213/91) requires that TCPs be given written and oral instructions regarding their duties. A worker who is required to direct vehicular traffic:

  • Shall be a competent worker;
  • Not perform any other work while directing vehicular traffic;
  • Be positioned in such a way that he or she is endangered as little as possible by vehicular traffic; and
  • Given adequate written and oral instructions in a language that he or she understands, directing vehicular traffic, including a description of the signals that are to be used. These instructions must be kept on the project.

Setting up the Work Zone

The next step is to set up the work zone. This includes:

  • Clearly identify the work zone with signage as required in the Ontario Book 7 Manual diagrams.
  • Design the work zone in such a way that the workers will be visible to all drivers. Remember that the driver’s sight lines will vary from location to location depending on the road curve, hills/valleys, or objects/buildings beside the road.
  • Use barriers, barricades, markers, cones, etc. to guide traffic and to protect workers.
  • Cover permanent traffic signs and markings if using temporary signs/markings.
  • Ensure any signs, devices, or barriers are visible in all varying conditions of light and weather.
  • Make sure that the work zone is indicated in advance so that the incoming traffic has time to adjust their speed and plan for a change of lane.
  • Ask the road authority to reduce the speed limit in the work zone.

Traffic Controllers

  • Appoint a competent traffic control person for each end of the work area.
  • If a traffic control person is deemed necessary, place a sign in advance of the person to indicate his/her presence unless it is an emergency situation.
  • Traffic control persons must ensure they have a communication system in place including two-way radios and hand signals.
  • Traffic Controllers must be in good physical condition, mentally alert, and have the ability to react quickly in an emergency.
  • All traffic controllers must remember to never place your body, or any part of your body, in the path of a motor vehicle.
  • Control stations must be located far enough ahead of the work space so that approaching traffic has sufficient time to stop before entering the work zone.
  • The traffic controller should stand either on the shoulder adjacent to traffic being controlled or in barricaded lane.

Protective Devices

Section 67(2) of the Construction Projects regulation (213/91) requires that all workers at a project on a highway who may be endangered by traffic must be protected by using as many of the following measures as is necessary:

  • Barriers
  • Barricades
  • Delineators
  • Lane control devices
  • Warning signs
  • Flashing lights
  • Flares
  • Traffic control devices
  • Blocker trucks
  • Crash trucks
  • Sign trucks
  • Speed control devices
  • Longitudinal buffer areas.


A sign used to direct traffic must have the following features:

  • Octagonal in shape, 450 mm wide, and mounted on a pole 1.2 m long
  • Made of material with at least the rigidity of plywood 6 mm thick
  • High-intensity retroreflective red colour on one side, with STOP printed in high- intensity retroreflective white letters 150 mm high
  • On the other side, high-intensity retroreflective micro-prismatic fluorescent chartreuse colour, with a black diamond-shaped border, at least 317 mm x 317 mm, with SLOW printed in black letters 120 mm high.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Hard hat that meets regulated requirements.
  • Safety boots, CSA-certified, Grade 1 (green triangular CSA patch outside, green rectangular label inside).
  • Garment, usually a vest, covering upper body and meeting the CSA Z96-15: High-Visibility Safety Apparel requirements

Work in the Work Zone

Work performed should take the following into considerations:

  • The road must only be blocked for the duration of the work being performed.
  • Location of materials and vehicles in the Work Area
  • Dust control to prevent visibility issues
  • Place lighting equipment in a way that does not blind drivers.

Monitoring the Work Zone

Monitoring the Work Zone must be an ongoing task and includes:

  • Inspect the site daily to ensure that signs, cones and other signaling equipment are placed in the right position (visible), cannot easily be moved by people, cars, or wind gusts, and are kept in good condition.
  • Work must never be left overnight to finish the following day.

Removal of Work Zone

Removal and completion of the work must consider as a minimum:

  • Upon completion of the work the materials such as rocks, gravel and mud are to be removed from the site and disposed
  • Ensure traffic control devices are removed or covered when no longer needed.
  • When work is done, remove all traffic control equipment in reverse order than when installed.
  • Advance signs should be removed last and only after all other devices have been removed.

Ensuring traffic safety and control is implemented on site will help protect workers and the public from potential accidents causing damage, injury and even death. Speak with a health and safety professional to help set up your traffic control safety program.

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