Visibility hazards for vehicles and mobile equipment in industrial workplaces
Learn the legal requirements and best practices for addressing visibility hazards involving vehicles and mobile equipment in industrial workplaces.
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People who work with and around vehicles and mobile equipment in industrial workplaces may be at risk of serious injury or death.
Various types of vehicles, including tractors and trucks, and mobile equipment, such as forklifts, tow buggies and pallet walkies can be found in industrial workplaces.
Incidents involving these devices have caused deaths, injuries and damage to property. There have also been “near misses” in which incidents could have occurred.
Incidents generally involve either:
- two vehicles or pieces of mobile equipment
- a vehicle or mobile equipment and a worker on foot
- a vehicle or mobile equipment and a fixed object
Incidents can occur because of:
- limited visibility
- inadequate separation
- inadequate traffic controls
- loss of control or lack of attention by either an operator or a worker on foot
Measures and controls can prevent these incidents from occurring.
The following outlines legal requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding vehicles and mobile equipment and visibility hazards.
Keep equipment in good condition
Under clause 25(1)(b), employers must make sure the equipment, materials and protective devices they provide are maintained in good condition. This includes making sure the equipment, materials and protective devices are in good condition so the operator can see a worker on foot or another hazard.
- windows are not broken or dirty
- mirrors are not missing, broken or dirty
- the reflective stripes or bright colours on high visibility safety apparel are not washed out or dirty
Provide information, instruction and supervision
Under clause 25(2)(a), employers must provide workers with information, instruction and supervision to protect their health and safety.
Examples of information and instruction include:
- workplace traffic rules for the safe operation of vehicles, such as speed limits, stopping at intersections, hand and horn signals and proper placement of any load being carried
- routes and safe work practices for working around vehicles and mobile equipment
- attention to blind spots on vehicles and mobile equipment for both operators and workers on foot
Employers must also make sure that workers are supervised so that operators drive the equipment safely and workers on foot follow safe work procedures.
Under clause 25(2)(d), employers must make sure that workers, or a person in authority over a worker (for example, supervisor or manager) are acquainted with the hazards in the work.
It is important for supervisors to understand the hazards so they can:
- ensure that workers are performing tasks safely
- make decisions that protect workers’ safety
Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances
Under clause 25(2)(h), employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.
This may include:
- developing and implementing a traffic management program
- ensuring workers wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as high visibility safety apparel
- making sure lighting levels are appropriate
- adding visibility aids to equipment and in the workplace
- designing workspaces that create barriers between vehicles or mobile equipment and workers on foot
Read more about how to prevent injuries and examples of precautions.
Regulations that apply
Some requirements in Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments may also apply to vehicle and mobile equipment and visibility hazards, including:
- using barriers, warning signs or other safeguards in an area where vehicle or pedestrian traffic may endanger workers’ safety (section 20)
- providing artificial lighting and reducing shadows and glare to a minimum where natural lighting is inadequate to ensure workers’ safety (section 21)
- having head and tail lights that provide adequate illumination on mobile equipment when lighting conditions may make operating the mobile equipment hazardous (clause 54(1)(a))
- only allowing a competent person or a worker being instructed and accompanied by a competent person to operate mobile equipment (clause 54(1)(d))
- using competent signallers where required and stationing them in the correct position (section 56)
- making sure unattended vehicles are immobilized and secured against accidental movement (section 57)
How to prevent injuries
When possible, employers should separate moving vehicles or mobile equipment from workers on foot. Administrative controls should be considered when separation of vehicles or mobile equipment and workers on foot is not possible.
The following are recommended best practices that can be implemented to protect workers on foot from vehicle or mobile equipment and visibility hazards.
Separation of vehicles or mobile equipment and workers
- Install barriers to separate workers on foot from vehicles or mobile equipment.
- Designate routes for workers on foot that avoid vehicle or mobile equipment traffic.
Visibility and detection
- Install assistive devices on vehicles or mobile equipment, such as:
- proximity sensing or viewing devices such as cameras
- warning, safety or proximity lights
- reversing alarms
- communication radios
- Install assistive devices in the workplace, such as:
- convex mirrors at intersections
- warning lights to indicate the presence of vehicles or workers on foot in the area
- Eliminate or make operators aware of blind spots on vehicles, especially when equipment is in a raised position.
- Ensure computer displays or other equipment added to vehicles or mobile equipment meet manufacturer’s recommendations and are sized and located so they do not interfere with an operator’s view.
- Install appropriate area and vehicle or mobile equipment lighting and develop an awareness of hazards caused by glare from natural or artificial lights.
- Develop and implement a written traffic management program that addresses site and task-specific risks and contains:
- a workplace traffic assessment that identifies:
- vehicle and walking routes
- areas with greater collision risk due to the type of vehicle, activities of workers on foot or area layout
- measures and procedures to separate vehicles or mobile equipment
- traffic rules for vehicles or mobile equipment and workers on foot
- training for all workers who could be affected, including temporary workers and contractors
- interactive training to help operators and workers on foot see and understand what an operator can and cannot see (for example, workers on foot should sit in the driver’s seat to better understand visibility limitations)
- reporting of incidents and near-miss incidents to assist with traffic planning
- a workplace traffic assessment that identifies:
- Consult with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative during the development of the program.
- Have supervisors monitor compliance with the program.
- Implement communication protocols, warning signs or other safeguards.
- Implement work practices that eliminate blind corners and ensure appropriate aisle widths.
- Use competent signallers where required.
Read CSA B335-15 Safety standard for lift trucks for guidance on traffic management.
Personal protective equipment
- Workers near vehicles or mobile equipment should wear high visibility safety apparel that is in good condition.
- Where hard hats are provided by the employer, consider adding reflective striping and lights to hard hats in dark conditions.
- Make sure high visibility safety apparel is fastened appropriately to present a large surface that is not broken up.
Read CSA Z96-15 High-visibility safety apparel standard for guidance on colours and reflective striping.
If you need more information about safety requirements, please contact the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development Health and Safety Contact Centre at:
This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.