Wiltshire Council has become the first local authority to join Safer Highways as part of its new free membership programme and is also backing the organisation’s industry-led Stamp It Out initiative to eradicate road worker abuse.
Speaking after becoming members, Diane Ware, Principal Technical Officer (Highways) at Wiltshire Council said: “At Wiltshire Council we have been working with contractors around abuse and active measures to prevent any abuse to those working on our behalf, we have had incidences of our gatemen being subjected to physical abuse , sworn at, driven at and there are several incidents of drivers refusing to move. Over the last few years we have encouraged the use of police style body cameras, where there is a front facing screen so that the member of the public can see the recording, we insist on pairing up gatemen, and have written the use of body cameras into our contracts.”
“The management of these provisions is not cheap, so we have an on cost on top of the standard work rates. The cameras and signage to say CCTV in use has reduced the incidents and complaints, we also use social media to let people know what we are doing and why, but. The only reason we are out there maintaining the roads as we do is for the public, so they have a safe and pleasant journey as they go about their business and of course to maintain our asset. Our workforce should not be abused they are ‘highway heros’ and deserve the respect of the travelling public for the essential work that we do. Being members of Safer Highways, this will help us understand the issue, help us with training to defuse situations, it will also enable us to promote and share best practice. It will also give us the material to share near misses and incidents with the public through our media team to highlight the issue generally.
“We need workers to go home happy and say they have had a good day, not be depressed and talking about being shouted at, we need more roadworkers and engineers, we want their kids and friends to think about working with our contractors in the future.”
Local authorities are being offered the chance to help shape improvements in the future of health, safety and wellbeing on the public highway with the introduction of free membership to Safer Highways.
The move follows a clear intention by Safer Highways to ensure that its vision for safer road workers, safer road user is applied to the public highway as well as the high-speed network.
By becoming members of Safer Highways local authorities will get the chance to have their say on how the public highway can become safer for all and how its successful series of health, safety and wellbeing programmes including its ground-breaking work on mental health in the workplace, Road to Wellbeing Survey and report and the new Stamp It Out Campaign, set up to eradicate abuse of roadworkers which aims to change the law making not only this abuse illegal but give highway workers key worker status.
Kevin Robinson, Chief Executive of Safer Highways, “I am delighted that Wiltshire has committed to become members of Safer Highways. It highlights its forward-thinking attitude towards keeping highway workers and the network in general safe as well as the wellbeing of our roadworkers and anyone else that works on the public highway. I hope Safer Highways will learn a lot from its work on the local network.”
Member councils will get priority access to all Safer Highway programmes and events as well as a chance to promote their own best practice and collaborative working in health, safety and wellbeing through the extensive readership of SH magazine and through a large following on social media and the highways trade press.
The organisation is a collaborative programme, supported by industry leaders from across the whole highways sector, together with some of the UK’s, and indeed the world’s, leading safety and wellbeing experts.
Its purpose is to keep health, safety and wellbeing at the fore of the highways industry and to help drive awareness, strong leadership, effective communication and best practice at all levels in our sector.
The Safer Highways vision is that the highways sector becomes a beacon of best practice for the good management of all health, safety and wellbeing issues, and that other sectors look to us as leaders in this field.
“We want to look back in years to come and be proud to see that we have made a lasting difference for everyone who works in our industry at every level,” said Mr Robinson.
For more information on Safer Highways, go to: www.saferhighways.co.uk