Traffic management in manufacturing

Moving vehicles and equipment on manufacturing sites can be fatal if not used correctly and safely.

We have produced guidance for manufacturing sites that use moving vehicles and equipment. Traffic hazards to consider include the safety of the site, vehicle and driver.  

Workplace traffic management provides guidance on the layout and traffic flow of a workplace; ensuring vehicles are safe and maintained; and the training, supervision and monitoring of drivers. 

Workplace traffic management  (PDF 542 KB)

Known as mobile plant, they have the potential to cause serious injury or kill someone by striking them or colliding with other vehicles or equipment.

Examples of mobile plant could include forklifts, delivery trucks and other light vehicles.

How can traffic hazards in the workplace be managed?

As an employer, you have a duty to eliminate, isolate, or minimise hazards to your employees. To manage traffic hazards at the workplace consider three main areas:

  • Safe site
  • Safe vehicle
  • Safe driver.

Safe site

The layout and traffic flow of a workplace is important in keeping people and plant safe as they move around. Consider:

  • One way systems.
  • Well marked road/pedestrian areas.
  • Training and inductions for staff and visitors on pedestrian areas and traffic flows.
  • Mirrors on blind spots.
  • Separate entrances for people and plant.
  • Designated crossing points.
  • Sufficient lighting.
  • Speed management (bumps, signage).

These can be of a temporary or permanent nature depending on the site. For example, a small manufacturing site could use pedestrian walkways with crossing points, and temporary barriers when trucks are loading/unloading.

Also assess what other activities are taking place around the workplace, and ways these can be managed. For example, if reversing, loading/unloading, and manoeuvring with loads is taking place, consider:

  • Reversing/turn-around areas.
  • Designated loading/unloading areas.
  • A designated safe area for drivers 
    (while loading/unloading).
  • Spotters to assist vehicle positioning.
[image] Work space inside a plant with barriers separating area for pedestrians
Physical barrier segregate plant and pedestrian areas

Safe vehicle

Vehicles used in a workplace must be safe for the intended use.


  • The design specification of the vehicle.
  • The loading/capacity of the vehicle.
  • Safe means of access and egress from vehicle cab or trailer unit.
  • Fuel source – for example, if used inside,
    an electric fork lift may be safer than an LPG fuelled fork lift.
  • Visibility – for example, rotating lights, running lights, mirrors, reversing alarms/cameras.
  • Protective structures – for example, falling object protection, roll protection.
  • Seat belts – for example, older fork lifts may need to have a seat belt retro-fitted.

Vehicle maintenance is also important.

You must make sure that vehicles systems/safety controls are working.

Vehicles should be maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and by a competent person. Consider:

  • Pre-start checks (kept and logged with vehicle records).
  • Regular maintenance inspections.
  • Monitoring/auditing checks and inspections to make sure they are being completed and that remedial work is fixed.
[image] Diagram showing correct and incorrect standing place of a driver while his vehicle is fuelled
Designated driver safe area

Safe driver

Drivers of vehicles must be trained and competent to operate the vehicle safely.

Drivers with less experience need to be supervised and monitored to ensure they are operating the vehicle safely. Consider:

  • Initial and refresher training for drivers by competent persons/providers.
  • Driving observations, with feedback on driving habits.
  • Motion sensors/equipment monitors that log driver behaviour.
  • Guidance material on specific vehicle training eg ACOP for training operators and instructors of powered industrial lift trucks.
  • Training records for each driver.
  • Medical checks to ensure drivers are fit to operate vehicles (being aware of medical issues).

Drug and alcohol policy and checks.

[image] Work space inside a plant with area separated by barriers and red flooring marks
Barriers and floor markings indicate designated loading area

Finding out more:

Further information can be found at:

Vehicles at work (HSE UK)(external link)

General guide for workplace traffic management (Safe Work Australia)(external link)