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Getting used to the NZ Guide to Temporary Traffic Management

05 Oct 2023


CCNZ Technical Manager Michelle Farrell explores how the New Zealand Guide to Temporary Traffic Management is bedding in.

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read the New Zealand Guide to Temporary Traffic Management (NZGTTM) and WorkSafe guidance, but in case you haven’t, here’s the bones of it to follow up on my previous explainer.

The Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management (CoPTTM) is what has historically set the rules for TTM as a prescriptive guide – it says 'if you do this, then you need to do that'. For example, for a worksite on a low volume road, with a speed limit of 80km/h, the taper length must be 40m long, cone spacing every 5m, working space 20m and lane width 3.25m. That’s about it.

In contrast, the new Guide is about keeping everybody safe around roadworks site, including how you might work towards achieving this. It is not a prescriptive rule book.

Part 1 of the Guide is about why the change is happening - there are currently too many fatalities at roadworks sites and CoPTTM isn’t well-aligned with The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which is a risk-based approach and which determines that a) everyone is responsible for safety and health and b) if you create the risk, you manage the risk.

Part 2 of the Guide is about how to assess and manage risk including stakeholder engagement, hierarchy of controls, and some 'TTM 101'. I recommend reading Part 2 for good overall insight of planning and implementation, such as who should do what, when, and how the process might look.

Part 3 of the Guide is “The toolbox” and talks about design principles, such as what you’re trying to achieve with TTM at various parts of the worksite. For example, we place signage up prior to the site to warn road users in advance that a worksite is ahead. 

Controls are placed along the site to provide guidance to public of how to safely get through the site and to protect workers and public from site hazards. Then more signage is placed to indicate to the public that they have passed the TTM site and things are back to normal. The toolbox also presents tables and references for the factual stuff, like geometric design, relevant standards and stopping distances.

The Waka Kotahi TTM library has supporting information and resources on a range of topics to help the industry to put the guide into practice, so check that out too.

It's more about managing risk

Earlier this year, WorkSafe released a handy little guide called “Worksafe’s Good Practice Guide: Keeping healthy and safe while working on the road or roadside – guidance for PCBUs”. This guideline talks about how to manage risk throughout the contracting chain, Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) responsibilities, what risk management is and what type of risks might be present. 

It goes into detail about what could go wrong when working near live traffic, with mobile plant, from moving vehicles, near utilities and services, near the rail corridor and in extreme weather conditions and control measures for each of those potential risks. The section on things to think about when assessing the risk of working near live traffic is a helpful read.

If you create the risk, you manage the risk. It’s important therefore that contractors working on the roads understand the level of risk they have and are responsible for and understand TTM principles well. If you or your company work around live traffic it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your workers and the public on and around your site.

The more influence and control a PCBU has over a work site or a health and safety matter, the more responsibility they are likely to have. You may need to challenge TTM planners and Road Controlling Authorities such as councils on proposed methodologies if you’re not comfortable – and that’s to be encouraged and supported. 

The contractor and TTM provider will need to be closely involved in the pre-planning – this is critical to the success of the change, to the safety on-site and to legal requirements of contractors working onsite. Early involvement will increase the opportunities available to plan really smart, safe worksites and work programmes with the potential to reduce both disruption to the public and cost. Check out this video of Weld Pass risk-based TTM to see what can be achieved. 

Remember, this approach is not new to construction. In fact, since the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 was legislated, this has been the case anyway, even if it hasn’t been applied or enforced correctly in the TTM space. If you’re not involving all subbies (including the TTM crew) in pre-start meetings, toolbox talks and inductions, if you don’t have an adequate method of supervision and reporting and if your documentation processes aren’t up-to-scratch, then it might be a good time to refresh your company’s safety processes. 

Pre-planning, good communication, collaboration and good documentation are all things that Worksafe would be checking, if there was an incident. Make sure you’re happy that your company’s processes allow for this. 

Some ideas for risk assessment workshops available around the country can be found at the end of this article. These courses aren’t all specifically for TTM, however they will help lift awareness, understanding and quality of company processes to gear up for the imminent change.

For the change to be successful, and to realise all the potential benefits available, contractors need to understand the concept of lowest total risk and what is reasonably practicable. Adding more road cones or more paperwork won’t always be the best solution, and neither is closing every road. This Waka Kotahi document about lowest total risk gives some good examples of what this means. And the Worksafe Guide has a document about what reasonably practicable means. 

Using the hierarchy of controls to identify the safest reasonably practicable solutions for a site (a legal requirement) and to manage risks means you’re using the most effective control measures, first (see graphic below). 

Hierarchy of controls diagram 

Now you may ask, who will approve the work? Let’s compare TTM with other high risk construction activities. Say you’re the head contractor and you’ve developed a crane lifting plan, including talking to adjacent business owners to say when the lift will happen, getting permission from the Road Controlling Authority to close the road for an hour while the lift happens, discussing the impacts to the clients’ business operations and getting the plan signed off internally.

No one here (outside of your organisation), even the Engineer to the Contract, has actually approved the lift plan. How you work with the equipment you own and the collective experience you have is up to you - provided you have carefully considered all the risks involved, taken all precautions to manage those risks, gained all permits required and communicated your plan to all stakeholders. If a serious incident was then to happen, WorkSafe would have good reason to question all parties (PCBUs), including the client, the head contractor and the crane subcontractor. The Waka Kotahi TTM FAQs page is a good read, including a section on how disagreements around risk management should be resolved.

What if you’re an STMS and you’re due to renew your warrant? Don't wait - go and renew it. Any training you do is going to contribute to your competency assessment, in other words it will all count in the long run. Many people have been diligently working on creating NZQA TTM qualifications for TTM, which will start to be rolled out next year. Since the quals will be NZQA, there may be funding avenues available to businesses to train staff this way. But remember that this is not the only way for staff to be considered as competent. See the qualifications roadmap below for more details about planned timings.


Roadmap diagram from the TTM Credentials Framework Governance Group 

Let’s briefly discuss competency and training. If a request for tender was asking tenderers to nominate a Project Manager for a job, you might look at all the project managers you had available, consider who had experience relevant to the type of work you’re tendering, who had capability to manage the value of work in question and who had the capacity to commit to the location and time required to successfully deliver the work.

Some of your project managers might have recognised credentials in project management, but other’s may have come up through the ranks, received mentoring and supervision and are therefore competent to perform the role. This is one of the changes in the TTM space – competency can be demonstrated in many ways; the worker does not necessarily have to have formal qualifications, there are many ways to be considered as competent for the various TTM roles. On-the-job training, mentoring and supervision (similar to apprenticeships) can also form part of the career pathway.

Another thing to consider with competency, along with the type and size of the job, is the level of responsibility each worker will have onsite. There’s a range of levels from simply following instructions, to regularly assessing risk, to evaluating and developing risk assessments for dynamic situations, through to influencing safety culture.

The level you’re at, or are working towards being at, will determine the level of supervision required and the level of responsibility. It is the PCBU’s responsibility to ensure and maintain their staff competency for the level of responsibility they are given. It’s also the lead contractors’ responsibility to ensure the competency of their subcontractors is adequate for the job. In the same vein, it’s the client's responsibility, as a contracting PCBU, to query the competency of the contractor to do the job. Proving competency as well as ensuring it, are key to a job being done well and to keeping everyone safe.

Before you go and throw out CoPTTM (don’t - it’s got a lot of good advice, probably worth keeping for now), just remember that until you’re explicitly told to manage traffic with a risk-based approach – either through a Notice to Contractor or written into a new contract – you still need to adhere to your contract conditions, which most likely still refer to CoPTTM. 

Relevant training

The list of training providers below has been supplied by Sue Hawkins at Waihanga Ara Rau, and includes is just some of the opportunities that are available.

Many of the short courses are based on US 30265 – Apply H&S risk assessment to a job role. This unit standard is used across many industries. 

Axiom Training:
Health and Safety Risk Assessment using US 30265, 

BeSafe:
Health and Safety Risk Assessment Course  This course is based on US 30265. 

Civil Training Licensing NZ
Apply H&S risk assessment to a job role

ConstructSafe 
is widely used in the construction industry for entry level H&S, 
 
Major Oak Safety Training
Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment Unit Standard 30265

Parallaxx

Training and Assessment Solutions

Safety ‘n Action: Hazard & Risk Management (again using US 30265 plus US 497) ]

SiteSafe
Foundation Passport – Civil
owners, foreman, project managers, Risk Management

Vertical Horizonz
Risk Assessment,  again based on US 30265 

For providers of New Zealand Certificate in Workplace Health and Safety Practice (Level 3), see the NZQA website.

 

 

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