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Q & A from the HAUC (UK) Convention now available

The Safety Challenge

Q- Every day I'm sure we see sites that don't meet all needs, should we look to mandatory retrain operatives for repeated failures? Is the street works ticket a ticket you can't lose?

A - We will be discussing training of O2 / S10 with the T & A working group as there are some issues we need to address around training including those mentioned in this question.

Q - Lots of works been done in the past regarding vulnerable users, why do we feel as an industry we are still failing in this arena?

A - Awareness and behaviours. "We do what we have always done" and the realisation that the demographic of modern society has changed has yet to impact on those behaviours. It is hoped that the refocus we are putting on vulnerable road users in the review will lead to a step change.

Q - Are you confident that both authorities and utilities are following the same guidelines/criteria in setting up sites as there is a large disparity across the country in cat A inspections?

A - No. Putting inspections to one side as that is not the focus for this code…the safety of people is. We recognise that there is not an even playing field when it comes to every one conducting works on the public highway and that needs to be addressed. The key issue being what measures can be used to ensure compliance BY ALL not just street works.

Q - How do we ensure HA inspectors will be able to check site compliance where it is risk assessed to be set up in a particular way - what does safety compliance look like?

A - That is a challenge we will be looking at when deciding what measures can be made "flexible" by site specific risk assessment. It may be a case of making the SSRA available if the HA believes a site is not correct.

Q - How can we encourage organisations to move away from standard desktop check box risk assessments to site specific ones?

A - By making them site specific and avoiding tick box move on types of assessment. It will be a challenge but it is one that we believe needs to be taken on.

Q - Should street works cards become like a driving license and if faults are found should they receive points and once they go over 12 points should they get their card suspended and go for training?

A - Sounds like a potentially good idea the issue being who polices it and it would have to be sector wide not just streetworks. This approach has been discussed at HAUC and and the Training and accreditation working group.

Q - Will the safety code include how to manage the vulnerable is it included in the site specific risk assessment?

A - Absolutely.

Q - How can we ensure SWQR training/accreditation produces capable operatives? Refresher training for those responsible for dangerous sites?

A - We believe the T & A relating to safety at street works and road works needs a complete overhaul and potentially mirror new requirements in Scotland for Road Authorities who now have to have qualified operatives on their own sites.

Q - Is the current code fit for purpose? What has changed since 2013?

A - No that is why we are having this review. So much has changed and needs to change.

Q - Should a Cat A inspection be changed... ie - is this site safe for all users (including ops and vulnerable road users ) as opposed to ticking boxed about the equipment etc?

A - Yes the current inspections criteria needs to change from "is it there" to "is it safe for the operative and those who may interface with the works". The two criteria in the code of High & Low Risk are also not adequate as a 3rd category of Hazard intervention should be added to cover those sites which may be complaint but have a minor issue such as barriers down or sign blown over that needs rectifying but is not a performance issue.

Q - What role do you see planning software tools will have on improving health and safety regulation as well as ensuring sites are accessible for all- how should they be regulated to ensure that they comply?

A - Not sure regulating such tools is the right thing. We envisage the risk assessment process starting at the planning / design stage of the works and developing through the works lifecycle as more information is gathered and decisions made.

Q - The same standards need to be more readily enforceable across the wider spectrum of works on highways beyond utility and highway authority works. All those third parties who are a nightmare to manage.

A - Yes they do!

Q - Does the panel think larger instant fines for failure to work to the safety code is a way of encouraging better compliance? It seems that failure and minor fines are budgeted for at the moment by organisations who are looking to make Profits and authorities not monitoring their own works.

A - Fines and penalties are not the answer. Making the work we do safer is not driven by financial penalties it should be driven by our own will to remain safe and alive and keep others the same way. A £100,000 fine does not compensate for a son, partner or friends life. We need to move away from this culture of threat and reward and into a world where safety is paramount and bringing people home safely after a day at work is the reward.

Q - I think a lot of the time operatives know what the standard is, it's poor behaviour that means they choose to cut corners. How do we create the visibility of what operatives are doing that compromise safety and change this behaviour?

A - Behaviour is the elephant in the room. We have the tools, we recognise the training is not what it should be but how do we change the culture and behaviour if only we had the answer. All ideas welcome though.

Q - Are there any working groups that are focused on improving equipment used on site that can be supported by the red book?

A - Yes we have a workstream Group looking at equipment and its standards.

Q - Should the qualification be regulated?

A - It is. Please refer to our other answers on training.

Q - Will PBI's drive the required improvements particularly around site set-up?

A - The concept of PBI if fine, but we are not sure this will drive the behaviour that will makes sites safer for all road users.

Q - How do we accredit operatives on regular intervals, not just the days they turn up for training. Build an ongoing risk profile at individual level that means certain individuals get a lot more attention than others?

A - Huge challenge to deliver something like this. Refer to our other answers relating to T & A.

Q - Improving the basic skills and training of the workforces undertaking these works for both utility and authority is key. Competence is not delivered adequately in the legally required accreditation. If we want them to feel ownership in getting it right then investment in training followed by robust performance management must be key. Does the panel agree?


Q - Could separate accreditation be considered for schedulers/permit applicants /permit reviewers to increase their awareness of safety consideration when permits are submitted received?

A - Potentially yes we tend to focus training on the field operation but also the support functions need a level of awareness.

Q - Late for the session but maybe to take away, how the balance is viewed on traffic delay / works being finished quickly vs over-sizing machines on site preventing sensible pedestrian management?

A - Time verses safety is a unequal equation. Restrictions on duration can have a detrimental effect on safety enough time should always be given to do the works safely and to the highest quality standards if you put pressure on that time corners will be cut and risks not resolved.

Q - Is there a case for local government to issue public information on what roadworks will look like and what you should expect?

A - No BUT there is a need to raise the awareness of the general public around street and road works in general, why they happen, what they are for and what the risks are. Roadworker safety has always been about highspeed roads what about the 60mph country lane?

Q - Following the discussion, it occurred that the framework to consider all is already provided through the EQIA (Equality impact assessment). Could this framework be used to included within the safety code for on site risk assessments to ensure that the site meets the needs of all?

A - Potentially what we need to be very conscious of is that works still have to be delivered and therefore there will always be a fine balance between looking after everyone and the practicalities of delivery. The only site that looks after everyone is the one where traffic is excluded but that has its own set of issues and practicalities.

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