Preparing for street works: ensuring safety and compliance

   11 September 2023         Blogs

Undertaking work on roadways and public pavements involves inherent risks that can impact both the public and workers. Proper management and precautions are crucial to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Failure to manage street works effectively can lead to serious road traffic collisions, endanger pedestrians, and cause damage to underground services. 

The consequences of these factors can be fatal, especially when working on busier roads where the risk is heightened. The obstruction of highways poses significant risks, leading to specific legislation governing street works and rigorous enforcement measures. Moreover, workers are exposed to additional hazards stemming from the use of machinery, chemicals, hot bitumen, and other elements, requiring utmost caution and adherence to safety protocols.

This blog post explores potential problems during street works and highlights the necessary precautions that contractors should take.

A Costly Incident: A Prominent Telecommunications Company’s Street Works Breach

A real-world case involving a leading telecommunications company’s subcontractor serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of mismanaged street works. The failure to properly signpost and guard the work area and inappropriate traffic management methods resulted in significant risks to pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. Despite numerous requests to address the issues, the company’s slow response led to prosecution by Transport for London (TfL). The company pleaded guilty to operating unsafe street works, resulting in a record-breaking fine and emphasised the importance of better communication and compliance.

Steps to Ensure Safe Street Works

All organisation’s that arrange street works, play a crucial role in ensuring safety and compliance. By taking proactive measures and working with competent contractors, organisation’s can mitigate risks and contribute to a safer working environment.

Here are some essential steps to consider:

Tip 1: Verify Contractor Competence

Before hiring a contractor, ensure they will have a qualified street works operative present on-site at all times during the project. Additionally, verify that the company has a qualified street works supervisor overseeing the works. These qualifications demonstrate the contractor’s commitment to safety and professionalism.

Tip 2: Request a Comprehensive Traffic Management Plan

Prior to commencing the work, request a traffic management plan from your contractor. This plan should be based on the Chapter 8 Traffic Signs Manual, which outlines best practices for managing traffic during street works. If your project is significant, consider involving a separate designer specialising in traffic management for larger scale works.

Tip 3: Review Risk Assessments and Method Statements

Thoroughly review the risk assessment and method statement provided by your contractor. These documents should address all potential hazards and outline specific measures to mitigate them. Ensure that the contractor has a solid plan to handle risks related to machinery, chemicals, hot bitumen, and other critical factors.

Conclusion: Prioritising Safety in Street Works

In conclusion, street works present significant challenges and risks that demand diligent management and adherence to safety guidelines. As a client, your role in choosing competent contractors and ensuring proper safety measures are in place is crucial.

By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can contribute to a safer and more compliant street works project.

Always remember that safety should be the top priority for any work involving public spaces.

New Roads & Street Works (NRSWA) training

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