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Roads sector steps up to protect frontline workers

As Road Safety Week begins, as well as the recent confirmation of an 8.2 per cent year on year increase in the national road toll, the road transport sector is accelerating action to save lives by publishing Australia’s first Road Worker Safety Industry Guideline.

Material sourced from Roads Australia.

As Road Safety Week begins, as well as the recent confirmation of an 8.2 per cent year on year increase in the national road toll, the road transport sector is accelerating action to save lives by publishing Australia’s first Road Worker Safety Industry Guideline.

Formally launched at the Roads Australia Transforming Transport Summit in Melbourne last Thursday (May 2), this guideline seeks to protect our industry’s frontline workers – those who build, operate and maintain our roads – and contribute to safer roads for all drivers.

It is an initiative of the Roads Australia Road Worker Safety Working Group which includes the Australian Flexible Pavement Association, Altus Traffic, CPB Contractors, Transurban, Institute of Public Works Engineers, National Transport Research Organisation, the New Zealand Transport Agency, Roadmarking Industry Association of Australia, Service Stream and Warp Group.

Roads Australia CEO Ehssan Veiszadeh said: “The road transport sector has come together to challenge the current standard of practice and support and prioritise a vision zero future for the road worker industry.

“Industry has seen an unacceptable rise in the number of incidents, serious injuries and fatalities impacting road workers, signalling a need to continually improve the safety of road workers as well as the public travelling through work zones.

“Austroads data published in 2022 found that over a ten-year period, an average of 18 fatal worksite crashes and 245 serious injury crashes were recorded annually. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as many crashes and near misses in work zones are significantly underreported.

“Industry is committed to showing leadership on this critical issue, and as a result nine leading organisations who work to build, operate and maintain our roads have come together to raise the bar on road worker safety in Australia. We know more of our members and partners are looking to step up and encourage them to sign on and show their support by signing up to our Safer Workzone Commitment,” Mr Veiszadeh said.


 

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The National Transport Research Organisation recently surveyed 1,100 industry participants about their experience of safety on Australian roads. Their responses when asked if they’ve observed or been directly involved in any incidents near to road construction or road maintenance work sites or incident response were shocking.

The top five incidents they saw were:

  1. Speeding by members of the public
  1. Disobeying warning/ control signs
  1. Verbal and physical abuse from members of the public
  1. Dangerous manoeuvres by members of the public (including driving through traffic control)
  1. Heavy braking by members of the public when approaching traffic control

With Road Safety Week starting this week, all Australian drivers have the opportunity to make a pledge to drive so others survive.

“With the release of this guideline, we call on all drivers to consider the impact they can make on improving their behaviour, as the industry looks to partner with all levels of government to make our roads safer,” Veiszadeh said.

“Roads Australia and our members are active participants in work at the national, state and territory level to reduce road trauma including the National Road Safety Action Plan 2023- 25.”

James Pennings, Chief Commercial Officer at Altus said: “Industry can and should lead the development of higher standards for road worker safety. With its focus on capturing ever safer technologies and methods of work, Safer Workzones represents such a framework and we look forward to it being supported by organisations across the construction, maintenance, utilities and local government sectors.”

Tony Aloisio, interim CEO of the Australian Flexible Pavement Association said the organisation welcomes the leadership of Roads Australia in developing this guide.

“Driving safer outcomes for our workers on the ground is a critical issue for all industry members of the Australian Flexible Pavement Association Members (AfPA), and we are privileged to contribute to the development of this guideline by Roads Australia as well as provide ongoing support in its implementation. There is no IP in safety, and AfPA will continue to work with all stakeholders for the continuous improvement of safety practice and policy for all road users,” he said.

Geoff Allan, Chief Executive, Austroads said: “Austroads commends Roads Australia on the release of their Road Worker Safety Industry Guideline, a valuable resource for enhancing safety across the road construction industry. Industry adoption of the guideline and use of Austroads’ Guide to Temporary Traffic Management will help save lives. Additionally, we encourage companies to submit their innovative products for assessment by AITDSA, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. I am looking forward to the ongoing partnership with Roads Australia and industry to ensuring the safety and well-being of our road workers.”

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