A change to the law, education of both the industry and road users and an easy-to-use reporting mechanism are all needed to help eradicate road worker abuse, according to a new Stamp It Out Strategy document.
Launched today, the strategy sets out a roadmap for the Stamp It Out Campaign, that includes four main objectives: enforce, educate, report and communicate. These aims will see the campaign seek an amendment to the law to ensure all highway workers are permanently recognised as key workers and that more convictions take place following abuse of roadworkers as well as develop a robust communication strategy to change the road using public’s perception of our road workers through a series of specifically targeted media campaigns.
There are also plans to develop a simple, easy-to-use app, that can be used as a reporting tool for road worker abuse, that connects with other systems currently being used in the industry and is a central depository for information that can be used to create a region-by-region and country-wide picture on road worker abuse that will help inform decisions on how it can be eliminated. The work of the Stamp It Out collective, a Safer Highways led campaign-bringing together the whole supply chain-will also report its work via its Respect Our Roadworker series of events next June.
Earlier this month, Highways England revealed that there were nearly 6,500 incidents of incursions October 2017 and October 2020 – an average of 175 a month, with around 330 incidents of abuse reported from Sept 2019 to October 2020, an average of nearly one every day. This, it said, equates to a 10% increase in abuse incidents in the first 9 months of 2020 compared to the first 9 months of 2019 – with lower traffic flows in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
But it is widely accepted across the industry that the majority of abuse happens on local roads, so the extent of the problem is far and wide-ranging on both networks, much of which is yet to be uncovered.
Stamp it Out is the highways industry backed taskforce driving to eliminate abuse and incursions into closures on both the local and strategic network. The initiative is made up of a taskforce that is led by Kari Sprostanova, Health and Safety Director, Balfour Beatty UKCS and Rachel Heaps from Tarmac as well as including other Tier 1 and Tier 2 contractors and key members of the highways supply chain.
“This strategy makes clear our intentions of what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve it over the next year and beyond,” said Kevin Robinson, Chief Executive of Safer Highways.
“It shows our combined commitment to eradicating road worker abuse on both the local and strategic networks and the taskforce is looking ahead to what we need to deliver that now and, in the future,” he added.
Just last month, the campaign’s official government petition reached the milestone of 6,000 signatures.
With the aim of securing 10,000 signatures the petition would then force the government to acknowledge the issue in parliament, with the eventual desire being to effect a change in the members bill around punishments for abuse of key workers and have our industry included as a part of this.
As part of the strategy, the Stamp It Out taskforce will:
•Aim to reduce incursions into traffic management by; Identifying risk to employees, subcontractors and members of the public associated with the installation, removal and working within traffic management and to remove or reduce these risks, through improved installation, protection, communication, education and technology
• Increase the profile of roadworker abuse and increase awareness and support for those suffering with poor mental health in the highway sector.
• Review and measure the effectiveness of any improvements at regular intervals.
• Give due consideration to laws and regulations and guidance for the installation and removal of traffic management, as appropriate.
• Review and share incidents and data on incursions and roadworker abuse without prejudice.
To sign the petition, please go to: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/548480