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Safer Highways Conference – Safety, Health & Wellbeing for Road Workers


When we set off on our journey to work, or to visit friends and family, we put our trust in the Highways Industry to ensure our roads are safe.

Safer Highways Conference – Safety, Health & Wellbeing for Road Workers


When we set off on our journey to work, or to visit friends and family, we put our trust in the Highways Industry to ensure our roads are safe.

Safer Highways Conference – Safety, Health & Wellbeing for Road Workers


Date: 22nd November 2017

08 November 2017, Highways UK, NEC Birmingham

Clive Leadbetter, Managing Director from A-one+ opened the Conference – “Everyone has the right to arrive home accident free.” This was a key message shared by everyone in the room, and something we are very passionate about at Rennicks. When we set off on our journey to work, or to visit friends and family, we put our trust in the Highways Industry to ensure our roads are safe. It’s also the responsibility of the Highways Industry to “look after their workers and ensure they’re safe.” Hard hitting messages from Clive but indeed true.

As we heard later on during the Conference, road workers face danger every day at work, not only from potential hazards and road traffic incidents but also from road users who don’t give them the respect they deserve. Perhaps due to the stress involved when there are traffic incidents and road works causing unforeseen delays to their journey time. Pat Sheehan, Head of Health and Safety at Colas UK looked at the steps taken by the Industry to tackle the issue of road worker abuse, and the impact it’s having.

“There is no excuse for abuse,” Pat began. “This is a growing problem on our roads. It’s horrendous how our road workers are treated on a daily basis.” Presenting on behalf of the Highways Term Maintenance Association (HTMA), the trade body for the UK highways management and maintenance industry, Pat discussed their joint mission to enhance public perception of highway maintenance.

The campaign featuring photos of children whose mums and dads are working on the M60 (launched in 2015) was a good start to remind workers of the importance of safety, whilst urging motorists to think about the people behind the safety barriers when they drive through the road works. When our mind’s are on getting to the destination and road works result in queues and diversions, it can cause stress and anxiety. It’s important to do what we can as an industry to help reduce the stress levels of both road users and road workers.

This aside, road workers continually face abuse from drivers, and Pat shared some astonishing stories where road workers have been physically attacked. The HTMA is running a campaign to educate road workers by encouraging them to come forward and report abuse as ‘abuse is unacceptable’. The HTMA are also running various campaigns to better educate the public via TV and radio, direct mail, social media activity, and greater use of variable messaging signs to give road users advance warning of road closures and diversions ahead.

Road worker abuse is inevitably going to have an impact on mental health and wellbeing for road workers and this was a topic tackled by the next speaker Emma Hughes, Wellbeing Programme Lead at A-one+. Mental health, stress, and sleep deprivation were among some of the common concerns within the Highways Industry and Emma’s presentation covered a number of campaigns they’re doing at A-one+ to provide support and encourage road workers to talk.

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A step change in road worker safety, finding safer ways of doing things, provides the potential to eliminate a substantial number of road closures and reduce disruption, whilst improving the safety of road workers and road users. “Remove operatives from the carriageway” this was an interesting overview from Andy Stubbs, Commercial Director at WJ Group, which led well into the Rennicks presentation. Andy talked through some of the dangers involved in current methods used by many to apply road markings, and the ways in which the WJ Group have eliminated these risks, providing a safer working environment.

Next up was Robert. We are of course slightly biased but we felt Robert Tait, Sales Director at Rennicks UK gave an excellent overview on the work we are doing at Rennicks which is having a real influence on road safety. Focusing in the main on the Rennicks Virtual Journey Time System (RVJTS) – a first of it’s kind solution to the issue of journey time.

As we heard previously, we need to be doing more as an industry to reduce stress and confrontation on the roads. With a lot of work already underway and some exciting developments for the future of our Highways, road works are inevitable. Road users often report that they were unaware of planned roadworks or do not see the information in advance on signs. In a recent poll at the HTMA conference, 79% of the audience concluded that temporary signs or VMS are the best way to keep people informed.

If we can communicate clearly to the public by putting more VMS on the network we will be able to inform them in advance of any planned works or road closures which will in turn help to reduce the level of road worker abuse and road traffic accidents.

The RVJTS, successfully trialed by Highways England and Manchester Smart Motorways, is live, flexible and reactive. By eliminating the need for hardware on the network, deployment costs are saved, delays in procurement are reduced and more importantly, there is no risk to road worker safety as it allows the creation and amendment of routes with an associated journey time to be made remotely.

Phil Beaumont, Operations Delivery & Compliance Manager for Colas closed the Conference with a presentation on the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (IPV) and the challenges it faces. The job of an IPV driver carries great risks, with the number of strikes high. Phil and his Team believe that by removing the driver from the vehicle, technology can play a central role in safety. A similar driving force behind the development of the Rennicks Virtual Journey Time System.

For more information on Rennicks and the work we are doing to help improve road safety for everyone, please contact us on 01928 579 966.

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