Slowing down drivers to protect emergency workers

By Jeff Salton on July 11th, 2017

Roadside work has its inherent risks and while many drivers silently curse having to slow their vehicles to 40 kmh while approaching and passing roadside construction activities, restricting speed is an important safety measure for vulnerable workers.

The use of stop/slow signs, barriers, warning lights and messages also aid in the prevention of injuries to workers from passing vehicles.

What many drivers may not realise is that when attending roadside incidents, emergency workers face the same dangers as construction workers.

However, emergency workers don’t have the added protection of barriers and the like.

According to Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan, a number of emergency workers have been killed and injured on Australian roads after being struck by passing vehicles or debris. He said there were also many unreported ‘near misses’ while emergency workers are stopped on the roadside.

Hence, from 1 July, drivers in Victoria must now safely slow to 40 km/h when passing a stationary or slow-moving emergency vehicle that is responding to an emergency with flashing lights or a siren sounding.

“Emergency services workers are telling us that they feel in danger while they’re doing their job,” said Mr Donnellan.

The rule applies to Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, County Fire Authority and State Emergency Service vehicles. It also applies to VicRoads Transport Safety Service vehicles with magenta flashing lights.

While no demerit points apply for breaching the rule, the fine for an infringement is $277.

The changes are the result of extensive consultation with Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority, WorkSafe, Emergency Management Victoria, Department of Justice and Regulation, the Transport Accident Commission and RACV.

How does your business protect vulnerable workers? Are you doing all you can, or are required to by health and safety laws, to ensure workers return home safely after every shift?

The Health & Safety Handbook has more than 70 chapters full of information that can be used to help keep workers safe. The handbook includes chapters on traffic management, road transport workers, construction workers, and workers who use vehicles daily.

There are also chapters that deal with safety signage and supervising safe work.

Order your copy of the Health & Safety Handbook today on an obligation-free trial and see how you can apply it to your business – what do you have to lose?


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