The executive director of the Highways Term Maintenance Association (HTMA) has called on the sector to do more to improve road worker safety.
Last year the HTMA held a Road Workers summit which identified a series of challenges facing the industry.
Geoff Allister OBE (pictured) told Highways Magazine: “I think we are making progress, but there’s an enormous amount more that needs to be done. At the event last year we identified a range of nine issues that required action. However, we decided that we could not tackle all the issues at the same time so we took on three or four.
“For example, data collection is poor, both in terms of quantum and indeed in terms of consistency. If you haven’t got the right data then you could end up either fixing the wrong problem, or not fixing the problem at all. We need more sharing of best practice because that then entices a more consistent approach.”
The HTMA recently called on the highways sector to collate and report all incidents of road worker abuse, with Allister describing it as “one of the biggest issues facing the industry”.
He continued: “We targeted this area specifically and we’ve had some good successes. We’ve carried out a number of media interviews and worked with Highways Magazine to raise the profile of the issue. You’ve got to keep on at this in order to change cultures. We’ve also got to get through to motorists. We’ve been working with Transport Focus and we were on radio right up to the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2. We’re starting to get that groundswell of opinion changing, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
According to Allister, the process of planning roadworks and the length of time they should take to be completed, are both important factors when it comes to improving safety.
“The client has a role to play in all of this in terms of how the works are planned and how they’re managed,” he remarked. “For example, has the client allowed sufficient time for the works to be done? Has the client ensured that the provider has employed competent staff? Has the client got a competent designer? Those are all client responsibilities when it comes to traffic management. There are too many situations where a client turns around and says that the safety of roadworks is down to the provider. The provider has a big role to play on the ground, but there’s a whole process that goes before that.”
The Highways Term Maintenance Association is a trade organisation which represents the service providers who currently look after over 80% of the highway network within the United Kingdom. Its members are some of the best known consulting engineers, construction companies and service providers in the UK.