Investigation highlights risks to roadside workers

14.13 | 14 February 2011 | | 2 comments

The number of injuries to road workers on motorways and trunk roads in England more than doubled between 2005 and 2009, a BBC Inside Out East investigation has found (BBC News).

Figures from the Highways Agency showed injuries increased from 50 in 2005 to 110 in 2009, but the number of fatalities fell from five to one.

Road workers operate behind an impact protection vehicle, designed to act as a cushion. It absorbs the impact of a crash and provides the best protection for workers.

Not only do workers often suffer abuse from impatient drivers, they also have the threat of speeding motorists to deal with. A team from BBC Inside Out filmed cars racing passed workers in a 50mph zone travelling at between 70mph and 77mph.

Atkins, contracted by the Highways Agency to carry out repairs in some areas, is introducing another device to protect its workers, using stop-go boards on smaller roads.

The boards are fitted with CCTV cameras to help bring about prosecutions for drivers who put the workforce at risk.

Ian Jobson, senior operations manager at the Highways Agency, said: "On average we have 4,000 people working on our roads.

"In an ideal world we would shut the roads, which would be the safest way of doing it. But we cannot operate like that, particularly in this country, the traffic has to go somewhere, we can’t shut the country down.

"So we have to have a compromise, but we need to make it as safe as possible."

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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    Such results are consistent with the increased risk from deploying average speed cameras (the HA report from March 2008 revealed ASCs cause distraction, sudden braking, bunching and sudden lane changing). How many road worker injuries resulted from incidents triggered by ASCs?

    As Chris says, the details are an essential part of this story. It does not even state that the injuries have been caused by public vehicles (it could be careless roadworkers operating behind the protection of a concrete barrier, for example). But I suspect that ASCs have contributed to these injuries.

    Eric Bridgstock
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    Where are the details of these 110 injuries? Unless this information is put in the public domain how can we expect to understand the exact causes of the accidents and thus how best to reduce them? Why the secrecy?

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