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Before you start

All works require measures to ensure the safety of road users (including pedestrians) and operatives.

One of the first things you need to decide for any job or work site is whether the standards for signing, lighting and guarding given in this Code will be sufficient for this purpose, or whether you are going to need to take extra precautions. (The layouts shown in this Code are likely to be suitable in most cases but they will not be adequate for every situation that you come across.)

Remember that this Code deals specifically with signing, lighting and guarding. You will need to consider separately any risks associated with carrying out the works themselves.

For planned works, a competent person should visit the site in advance, carry out a risk assessment based on the road layout and nature of the works to be undertaken, and give clear instructions on the signing, lighting and guarding layout required.

Additionally before you start, you will need to look at the job, review existing risk assessments, and make your own assessment of on-site risks. If you have any doubts whether the instructions you have been given or the arrangements set out in this Code are sufficient to keep road users and operatives safe, do not start until you have discussed these with your supervisor, manager or other competent person.

Warning: To comply with health and safety legislation you must carry out and regularly review the site specific risk assessment to ensure that a safe system of working in respect of signing, lighting and guarding is in place and maintained at all times.

These are some of the things you should consider when making your assessment of on-site risks before starting.

Look at the road

  • Are there awkward or complex junctions?
  • Are the road or footway widths too narrow to allow the safe use of the standard layouts?
  • How much visibility do approaching road users have? – consider bends, crests of hills, trees and bushes, parked vehicles.
  • Are there any railway level crossings or tramways that will be affected?
  • Are there any overhead cables?
  • Are there any other works going on, or other traffic management measures in place, nearby?
  • Are your works near permanent traffic signals or signs? If so, could they obstruct above-ground or sub-surface detectors, signal heads or signs? Contact the highway authority if this is a possibility.

Look at the traffic

  • Is the intended type of traffic control appropriate for the prevailing traffic flow? – what about the number of heavy or large vehicles passing?
  • What is the speed limit, and does a significant amount of traffic appear to be travelling faster than the speed limit?
  • What is the type or make up of the traffic? – e.g. cars, heavy or large vehicles?
  • Is there a cycle lane? Are there many cyclists using the route?
  • Will bus routes or bus stops be affected?

Look at the local area

  • Are there likely to be frequent deliveries to shops or premises? – delivery vehicles may park in a way that blocks signs etc. or reduces road width.
  • Will the works restrict access to premises that have a lot of traffic entering or leaving? e.g. schools, large stores, car parks, fast-food stores – particularly consider right turning traffic.
  • What are the needs of the emergency services? – e.g. are there nearby police, ambulance or fire stations?
  • Are there facilities for disabled people, e.g. parking bays, and can these be avoided?

Look at pedestrians

  • Consider both safe routes and the standards of fencing/barriers needed to protect pedestrians from risks from inside the work space.
  • Is there a high level of pedestrian traffic? – consider users of pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
  • Are there significant numbers of people with reduced mobility or walking difficulties (who may have problems with steps, cable protectors, or uneven surfaces ), or blind and partially sighted people? – consider any nearby hospitals, surgeries, residential homes etc.
  • Are there many children around? – consider nearby schools, parks, playgrounds etc.
  • Will pedestrian crossings or school crossing points be affected?
  • Are there other pedestrian risks, such as people leaving pubs/clubs, sports matches or events?

Look at what might change

Estimate how long the works may be in place, then think about how any of the above issues might change within that time, e.g:

  • rush-hour traffic flows;
  • school run parking;
  • pub/club licensing hours;
  • match days at sports grounds;
  • one-off events, concerts etc;
  • street lighting levels;
  • weather and surface conditions; and
  • deliveries to the site.


  • Use the signing, lighting and guarding that is necessary for the risks, not just the equipment you happen to have available at the time. Work must not start until you have the right equipment set up correctly. For emergency works, full signing, lighting and guarding must be provided as quickly as possible.
  • Ensure the works team are given a formal briefing on all key safety issues and local site risk assessment related to the activity.
  • If you have any concerns, contact your supervisor, manager or other competent person.