Work next to roads and tracks

Work with building and maintaining roads and railways is covered by the provisions about building and civil engineering work. If passing vehicular traffic occurs, measures that prevent the risks with the traffic must be described in a Work Environment Plan. The same applies to other kinds of construction work on areas with passing vehicular traffic.

Construction work next to passing vehicular traffic should be planned and executed so that the risks with the traffic are prevented. It happens fatal accidents during that kind of work, especially when working besides rails. Work with roads and rails are conducted by a number of different contractors. The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) is the largest client and developer for many of these construction works. Other large clients are the municipalities and regions.

Work with roads and railways is covered by the demands of several different authorities. In addition to the Swedish Work Environment Authority, the Swedish Transport Agency and the Swedish Transport Administration have regulations which stipulate how the work should be carried out. The regulations apply in parallel which means that all of them should be followed.

Work led by a person with specific knowledge

Some work besides roads or tracks with passing vehicular traffic must be started and performed under the direction of a competent person. It applies to all work where the traffic is separated from the construction site by using traffic devices that prevent or divert traffic from coming into the workplace. All work with reparation and maintenance of tracks with passing traffic must also be led by a competent person.

Our regulations do not state exactly which competence the person should have, but in summary this entails

  • specific knowledge about work beside roads or railways, adapted to the type of work, as well as

  • fundamental knowledge about the work environment regulations that apply to the work, about for example building and civil engineering work and systematic work environment management.

Aim for workplaces free from passing traffic

Our regulations require that one, at an early stage, must plan so that the risks with passing vehicular traffic are minimized. This entails that one should choose preventive measures from the action steps below and strive to use the measures in the following priority order:

  1. Redirect the traffic so that the work is not affected.

  2. Direct the traffic in such a way that vehicles pass by at a safe distance.

  3. Separate the traffic from the workplace by means of traffic devices, if necessary protective devices that exclude or divert traffic from coming into the workplace should also be used.

If measures according to 2 or 3 are used, it should also be considered whether there is a need for reduced speed or to direct the traffic past the worksite by means of traffic signals or by a specially appointed person (a signalman). Reduced speed or to direct the traffic past the worksite can sometimes be used separately or in combination with each other, without any of the measures in item 2 or 3.

Read more in 81-86 §§ in the provisions about building and civil engineering work (AFS 1999:3Eng).

The Swedish Work Environment Authority and the Swedish Transport Administration have some recommendations for work beside roads. They are based on the The Swedish Work Environment Authority's provisions that one should always strive to redirect the traffic so that the employees are not affected, or so that the traffic passes at a safe distance. If that is not possible, there are rules of thumb for which actual speed is allowed relative to the distance between the employees and the closest part of the lane.

Maximum actual speed:

  • 30 kilometers/ hour if the distance* is less than 2,5 meters
  • 50 kilometers/ hour if the distance** is more than 2,5 meters
  • 70 kilometers/ hour where there is an approved protective barrier, at least class T2***

* Distance = the distance between the employees and the road traffic, or the closest part of the lane.
** The distance is at least 2,5 meters and up to the distance where there is no risk for collision.
*** Lengthwise protective barrier in an approved performance and length, T2 = capacity class according to SS-EN 1317-1 and -2

Transverse protection should be energy absorbing and followed by a buffer zone. The buffer zone is a distance that is totally free from objects between the heavy protection and the place where work is performed. No personnel, machines, materials or other things are allowed in this zone.

Traffic control devices, protective devices and safety distances

When using special traffic control devices to separate the traffic from the workplace, and protective devices to exclude or divert the traffic, they should be designed and placed so that they effectively protect the employees. They should also be solid and anchored.

With most roadworks, demands are made for a special traffic control plan, a so-called TA plan, that describes traffic signs, safety barriers and safety distances at the workplace. The TA plan does not replace the Swedish Work Environment Authority's requirements for a Work Environment Plan.

Speed and safe distance past the workplace should be adapted to the work and the employees needs of protection.


According to our provisions about building and civil engineering work, traffic control devices must be controlled before they are used. They must also be controlled and maintained regularly and after any incident that can have affected their function. If there is a deficiency that entails a severe risk for ill-health or accidents, the work must be stopped until the deficiency is fixed. Read more in the provisions about building and civil engineering work.

Road keepers and track owners also have demands on what controls should be carried out.

Building and civil engineering (AFS 1999:3Eng), provisions

Work Environment Plan

Sometimes, a work environment plan must be set up before the construction site is established. If passing vehicular traffic will occur, such a plan is always required.

Work Environment Plan

Last updated 2024-01-04