Calls for greater road safety standards for road workers

Monday, 22 May, 2023

Calls for greater road safety standards for road workers

The Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA) has called for greater road safety standards for road users and road workers, recognising the crucial role that safe road design and construction play in preventing or reducing the severity of road accidents. AfPA has called for greater road safety standards in alignment with a common set of national safety priorities identified by the National Health & Safety Committee (NHSC), committed to standardising safety practices and regulations throughout the nation’s flexible pavement industry, to create a better road network that protects road workers, minimises emissions and enhances conditions for all motorists.

AfPA has also reaffirmed its support for Queensland’s Roadways Behaviour Monitoring System (RBMS), an innovative technology designed to address speeding near roadworks and school zones. Trials undertaken in Queensland have gained support from road workers who have noted reductions in speed through their worksites. The RBMS is currently undergoing a two-year pilot program and AfPA urges other states and territories to consider adopting similar initiatives to improve road safety for all.

The NHSC has identified four key themes to enhance road worker safety and wellbeing at work, which include the separation of people and traffic; the separation of people and plant; RCS (respirable crystalline silica) and dust management; and workplace mental health. The separation of people and traffic aims to reduce the potential danger to workers walking in and around construction areas by changing driver behaviour and imposing speed limits. This initiative calls for greater collaboration between AfPA and NHSC, in partnership with industry organisations and road authorities, to create a national best-practice standard for safeguarding the wellbeing of workers.

AfPA aims to separate people from heavy machinery to create safety construction sites and protect workers. This goal will be accomplished by promoting greater industry dedication to training and risk management in maintenance and construction ventures. Members will be assisted through the development of scenarios that describe worker and machinery interactions, including details of the tasks, equipment and employees involved, as well as the standard controls available for risk management. AfPA’s Worker on Foot training program will be the cornerstone to support this initiative and help reduce risk.

One of the hazards road workers face is exposure to high levels of respirable crystalline silica and dust. AfPA has called for the implementation of industry best-practice management of RCS to minimise the risk to workers and the environment. The strategy recognises the need to adopt new materials and procedures to reduce the environmental impact of roadwork activities, such as the use of Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA). By working with industry bodies and road authorities, AfPA aims to develop and promote a national standard for the management of RCS and other dust-related hazards. This will help ensure that all workers involved in road construction are protected.

Mark Piorkowski, AfPA Executive Director of Qld and NT, said AfPA’s priority is to ensure that all workers involved in road construction are protected from a range of risks and dangers from speeding vehicles to worksite emissions, while also separating them from heavy machinery to create safer work environments. “By promoting greater industry dedication to training and risk management in maintenance and construction ventures, we can achieve this goal, and pave the way towards a safer and more sustainable road network. We believe that road safety is a year-round priority, and we are dedicated to promoting this message through our ongoing collaboration with the NHSC,” Piorkowski said.

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