worksite safety sign showing all the mandatory safety requirements

Insular Safety

Construction work is abound with risk, and with society tolerating only a limited risk exposure businesses are required by law to reduce the risk to acceptable levels. Occupational health and safety is a professional field of its own which employs many techniques to reduce the risk through eliminating them where possible, reducing their impact, or reducing exposure of people to the risks, among others. The overt manifestation of safety can be seen at most work sites with similar requirements for personal protective equipment, but this is only the last line of defence available when reducing risk and hides the multitude of other measures taken. But how do these businesses see their impact on the public?

Note the aspirational slogan on their sign:

worksite safety sign showing all the mandatory safety requirements

Keeping People Safe is our Absolute Priority

Having been harassed by drivers at this site, revving their engines and creeping into the intersection while traffic was approaching I contacted CPB and through a circuitous route ended up connected to their Community Relations Advisor Ross McMorrow. I was assured that safety was important and that actions would be taken on site to address the concerns. Just days later the same problems continued to appear and I sent the following photo illustrating the problem:

truck sticking out into bicycle lane when waiting to enter intersection

His reply to this example:

The photo provided clearly indicates that our work crew are driving in a safe manner while exit [sic] the site compound.

So lets have a closer look at this vehicles positioning first by checking where the wheels sit relative to the roadway.

truck wheel sitting on kerb

The front wheels are already onto the concrete kerb, and this wheel is completely over the lip. Measuring the concrete kerb ramp at 1300mm wide against the 1200mm (4 feet) absolute minimum width bicycle lane, and then taking measurements for the vehicles and the rest of the road we can assemble the following scale image.

cross section of roadway

Elevated above the road surface the bull bar of the ute (Australian term shortening utility vehicle, called simply a truck in American language) sits at chest height of a typical cyclist. The front of the vehicle has entered the bicycle lane leaving just 300mm (1 foot) clearance between it and any cyclist using the lane. How close would an employee of their company stand to the front of this vehicle? Would any construction worker stand in the middle of the bicycle lane while the vehicle is sitting there and traffic is moving past?

A blurry photo from a wet day captures the common occurrence of vehicles passing each other while turning.

vehicles passing in wide lane in front of construction site

The image of the vehicle above is also captured as a short video:

Having received a blunt rejection of any problem from Ross McMorrow, the matter was escalated to their manager at CPB, Mary-Anne Lane. Assurances were made that the traffic and safety teams had attended the site and applied further controls and instructions, including a stop line painted on the concrete kerb to keep traffic back from the road lanes. The line was painted with marking paint and has already been worn off in many areas. Despite repeated assurances the problem continues to reoccur:

Here we can see the larger context of the site and the visibility issues the drivers face when trying to exit onto the road. Recall this is a company building roads, but they do not seem to be able to provide the basic sight distances adequate for their own access. The video captures a vehicle already in the roadway and the driver visible from the bicycle lane, with more than 8 seconds to respond to the oncoming cyclist they chose to remain blocking the road. We can look at the numbers assuming a vehicle was stopped safely out of the road the driver can see 90m up the road before their view is blocked by the parked cars. Returning to the Australian guides

[Safe Intersection Sight Distance] provides sufficient distance for a driver of a vehicle on the major road to observe a vehicle on a minor road approach moving into a collision situation (e.g. in the worst case, stalling across the traffic lanes) and to decelerate to a stop before reaching the collision point.

Which for the 60km/h limit on this road is shown as 123m, and also the related

[Minimum Gap Sight Distance] required for the driver of an entering vehicle to see a vehicle in the conflicting streams in order to safely commence the desired manoeuvre

Which for the straight road at 60km/h and 4 lanes of cars is shown as 133m

So from the Australian Guides as endorsed by Vicroads, CPB Contractors are failing to provide the minimum safety requirements to either their drivers or to the public. Their response is to push more risk onto the public and reduce the risk for their employees by allowing them to pull into the intersection. Politely suggesting they improve the intersection has fallen on deaf ears and business as usual continues, its now time to name and shame.

Concluding with some comedy is the banner still on their site:

advertising billboard at construction site

Who gets the safety?

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