Highways England steps up worker and driver safety campaign

Live carriageway crossings are the first target to improve worker safety; and organisation wants to improve road design, vehicles and driver behaviour.

Worker safety is top priority at Highways England

Highways England formally ramped up its campaign to improve safety for road workers last week when it called together its supply chain to look at ways of making England’s highways a benchmark of safety worldwide.

 “We are taking a fresh look at safety and believe that no one should be harmed when working – and driving – on our roads" - Mike Wilson, chief highway engineer

Technology, risk reduction and harmonisation of guidance were at the heart of the meeting along with encouragement of the supply chain to share best practice in safety.

The move comes as the organisation prepares for a quadrupling in workload as it delivers the £11bn investment planned for the next five years. And it wants to do that without seeing an increase in incidents; rather it wants to seen an improvement in safety figures of 40% from a 2009 base.

Overall over 1000 people have been killed or injured in incidents on laybys or hard shoulders in the last decade and safety for the workforce is top priority for the organisation. It is also focusing on driver safety and has recognised that there is an interaction between users of the highway and those who work on it so future campaigns will look holistically at how safety can be improved.

 “We are taking a fresh look at safety and believe that no one should be harmed when working – and driving – on our roads,” said chief highway engineer Mike Wilson.

A key target for road worker safety is to eliminate live carriageway crossings when setting up signage for overnight works. “That’s 3.7M crossings!” Wilson pointed out. New research with TRL has demonstrated that drivers will notice the information if the sign is just on the offside (ie verge side) of the carriageway so the requirement for signs also on the central reservation has been dropped. But more ideas on how to set the signs out safely are welcome, Wilson said.

Highways England will also be focusing on the interaction between road users and works at road works and how that can be improved; and the interaction between personnel and plan on site.

The ambition for drivers is to have 90% of Highways England roads credited with safe road assessment EuroRAP 3 status. “We hope to use March 2016 as the baseline and work forwards from there,” said project lead Stewart Evans. “But we want to move beyond EuroRAP 3 and are working with the Road Safety Foundation to include best practice from Australia and China for example.”

Highways England has three key planks in its road user strategy, he said. The roads themselves are one. But the organisation will also be working with the motor industry to encourage more innovation in vehicles so they and the drivers who use them are safer. And it will be targeting driver behaviour.




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