Addressing Occupational Violence in Traffic Management

Addressing Occupational Violence

in Traffic Management

In the challenging world of traffic management, safety is at the forefront of all operations.

However, one issue that continues to challenge the industry is Occupational Violence and Aggression (OVA).

Traffic controllers managing roadwork zones are often exposed to risks from drivers who are impatient, aggressive, or distracted.

Unfortunately, instances of verbal abuse, threats, and physical confrontations can occur when traffic controllers enforce road rules, implement detours, or manage traffic flow during peak times or events.

What types of OVA are Traffic Controllers exposed to?

Verbal abuse and threats are the most commonly reported forms of OVA.

Traffic controllers often deal with verbal abuse from individuals who are impatient, angry, or under stress due to traffic delays or detours.

Traffic controllers may face threats of violence or harm from aggressive individuals.

While less common than verbal abuse, traffic controllers can be subjected to physical assault by aggressive or frustrated individuals, whether it’s a driver, pedestrian, or bystander.

In addition, physical harm can include being hit by vehicles or objects thrown at staff during confrontations.

Why is the Safe Management of OVA Important?

OVA affects the wellbeing of traffic controllers and the overall safety of their work environments.

Understanding and safely managing OVA is crucial for creating safer workplaces and ensuring the mental and physical health of staff.

The Costs of OVA

Exposure to OVA can have significant impacts on overall quality of life.

Physical injuries resulting from OVA can range from minor injuries to severe trauma.

However, the costs of OVA extend beyond physical harm.

OVA can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, psychological trauma, and other psychological conditions, affecting job satisfaction, performance and productivity, morale, absenteeism and turnover rates among workers.

Additionally, OVA incidents can strain relationships between co-workers and supervisors, affecting teamwork and communication.

Furthermore, there are also financial implications for organisations, including increased workers’ compensation claims, higher insurance premiums, and potential legal fees.

Workers Compensation Claims for OVA

Claims related to OVA can have a major negative impact on injured workers, their teams, and the organisation as a whole. On average, a claim related to psychological injury can cost an employer around $35,000, impacting their premium by $15,000 to $20,000.

Proper training and support can help reduce the risk of OVA and mitigate these costs.

Impact of Hiring Staff Who are Not Well Suited to the Role

Labour shortages can lead organisations to hire staff who are not well-suited to the role. This potentially increases the risk of OVA and compromises safety.

Rigorous recruitment processes and comprehensive training can help mitigate these risks.

Staff with AOD Issues

Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) can impair judgment and increase the likelihood of aggressive behaviours being presented by either the worker or the road user.

As a result, organisations need to address AOD issues proactively through education, support, and appropriate interventions to ensure the safety of all workers.

While medicinal marijuana is legal in some jurisdictions, its use can impair cognitive functions and motor skills, posing safety risks in a traffic control setting. Clear policies regarding the use of prescription drugs in the workplace are essential to maintain a safe working environment.

What to Do About OVA

In conclusion, addressing OVA requires a proactive multi-faceted approach that includes raising awareness, clear procedures, and training in de-escalation and conflict resolution.

Improving safety protocols and communication strategies, fostering a supportive work environment, and providing access to counselling and support services, can also help reduce the risks of OVA for traffic controllers.

With the support of Holland Thomas and TMAA, traffic management professionals can be better equipped to manage aggressive behaviours, create safer work environments, and ensure the wellbeing of their staff.

Remember, safety matters, and together, we can make a difference in creating a safer working environment for everyone in the traffic management industry.

Do You Need Help?

Holland Thomas and TMAA are committed to providing comprehensive training solutions (online or face-to-face) that make a difference in addressing OVA and enhancing safety and professionalism in the traffic management industry.

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Travis Holland

Travis Holland
Managing Director
Holland Thomas
Travis Holland email address

Should you wish to discuss strategies to improve your staff’s safety in their work environment, please feel welcome to contact Holland Thomas.

Passionate about creating safer workplaces our goal is to enhance wellbeing for all concerned whilst also delivering improved operational and financial performance.

This blog draws on our years of experience delivering our M.A.B.™ Staff Safety Training (Contextualised Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behaviours) across Australia and the development of My Safety Buddy, our smartphone app and web portal based lone worker safety solution.

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