The latest figures from Highways England show that 330 incidents of roadworker abuse have been reported between September 2019 and October 2020.
These cover everything from highway workers being verbally abused and spat at to missiles thrown and physical attacks. In 2020, the number of cases has increased by 10% despite the reduced traffic flow caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
It’s to help tackle this issue that Highway Care is proud to be part of the cross-industry ‘Stamp it Out’ taskforce.
What is the ‘Stamp it Out’ campaign?
‘Stamp it Out’ is an industry-wide project to help tackle the problem of roadworker abuse. It aims to do this with three main strategies:
Enforcement: To amend the law to ensure highway workers are permanently recognised as key workers.
Education: To improve the public perception of road workers through a series of targeted media campaigns.
Reporting: To make incident reporting simpler with data collected on where, when and what has occurred.
A focal point for the ‘Stamp it Out’ campaign is a parliamentary petition that calls for highway workers to be given the same legal protections as other ‘key services workers’. Toughening the law in this way will act as a deterrent but also help to improve public perception of highways work.
Kari Sprostanova, Health and Safety Director of Balfour Beatty UKCS, is leading the campaign. She said:
“Everyone has the right to feel safe at work. Nobody should ever be threatened, intimidated or assaulted because of the job they do. And yet this is a scenario faced by thousands of people who work on this country’s road networks every single day.
“Abuse of doctors, nurses, police officers and other key workers is not tolerated and our road workers should not have to tolerate it either.”
Andrew MacCuish, Operations Director Highway Care said:
“Highway work is demanding enough without workers having to face these kinds of threats and attacks. Better legal protections are important but we also need to look at every factor from improving traffic management strategies to better use technology to improve protections and monitor safety.”
The campaign culminates with a Respect our Roadworkers week which is being held from June 21st, 2021 and will include a summit taking place at the House of Lords. A similar event in Scotland will be taking place from June 24th.
You can sign the petition here: [Stamp it Out petition]
What is the impact of roadworker abuse?
Apart from any physical injuries caused, exposure to workplace threats and abuse can lead to employees suffering from increased levels of anxiety, stress and depression. It’s not just the incidents themselves but the long term fears and uncertainties that they can cause.
The issue of abuse is also closely related to that of vehicle incursions with motorists deliberately breaching traffic management safety zones. In many instances, this is caused by drivers who are angry or frustrated by a roadworks delay.
The latest figures from Highways England show there were nearly 6,500 incursions reported between October 2017 and October 2020, making an average of 175 a month. Any time that an unauthorised vehicle breaches a traffic safety area, lives are put at risk.
Click below to download the Stamp it out Strategy for 2020/2021