Highways England is aiming for a 40 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the strategic road network by 2020.
HE’s new health and safety approach sets out how it will deliver improvements in health, safety and wellbeing for its staff, suppliers and road users.
By 2040 Highways England want to get this number as close to zero as possible.
Chief highways engineer Mike Wilson told Smart Highways Magazine’s sister publication Highways Magazine: “We believe that no one should be harmed when travelling or working on our network.”
For the first time Highways England is taking a holistic approach to both road user and road worker safety.
Wilson added: “We are creating a culture where safety is embedded deep within our operations, our own people and within our supply chain. It’s all about maximising the safety of the workforce and road users.”
Highways England is currently working on innovative techniques that will further improve road worker safety.
This comes after its ‘Eliminating road worker risks from crossing live carriageways’ initiative won the Judges’ Special Merit Award at last month’s Highways Magazine Excellence Awards.
Hailed as a ‘game-changer’ by the judges, the initiative means road workers no longer have to put up traffic-management signs in the central reservation of two, three or four lane dual carriageway roads – saving 3.7 million crossings a year.
Through investment and wholesale modernisation of the network Highways England will ensure that by the end of 2020 more than 90 per cent of travel on the SRN is on roads with a safety rating of EuroRAP 3*.
Highways England is working with the Road Safety Foundation and the Department for Transport to inform the development of a new comprehensive star rating system.
He continued: “We’re looking beyond that to see ‘what good looks like’ in terms of benchmarking from around the world. This will ensure that as we’re using these star ratings to determine where future investment might be, we’re doing so based on best practice, wherever it might be.”
With 3,000 construction workers, 6,000 maintenance workers and 200 traffic officers working on the strategic road network, Highways England is committed to keeping these individuals safe.
“We’re going to work with the supply chain to make working practices even more robust,” commented Mr Wilson. “For example strengthening supervision on site, managing risk, and sharing best practice across the industry.
“It’s not just about new schemes and new investment, it is also about how we routinely operate and manage the network, which will help us achieve the target.”
And he confirmed that going forward there is likely to be a reduction in the number of temporary signs that are being used on the network.
“We’re looking at how we might use permanent signs to replace the need for temporary signs to provide the guidance that road users need, but to also prevent road workers from the risk of actually placing those signs on the network.”