Carried out as part of a project for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, a WSP research team surveyed 316 temporary traffic management (TTM) workers about their experiences on site.
It’s no secret that working on or near roads is a high-risk activity. Safe flow of traffic through roadworks involves measures like signage, barriers, and reduced speed limits. At times, those on the frontline are exposed to the risk of passing traffic.
Over half of survey respondents experienced aggression or abuse from drivers. And the consensus view from TTM workers is that drivers aren’t following temporary speed limits. Two thirds of respondents observed (or heard) about a near miss at the last site they worked on – defined as a situation that might otherwise have led to a serious injury or fatality. Single lane sites had the highest number of near misses.
About half of respondents felt that safety at roadworks sites is being traded off against competing priorities, such as putting traffic flow before safety, and site safety cost pressures.
A quote from a survey respondent on roadworks safety culture is telling.
“[We] need a change in culture throughout the industry around the importance of safety on worksites and addressing all risk. Risk assessment is rarely considered unless on major long-term capital projects. There needs to be a step change in the industry to lift professionalism; at the moment, it’s a race to the bottom.”
WSP’s research team recommend that more ‘risk-based’ solutions aligned with the NZ Guide to Temporary Traffic Management are used at roadworks sites. These include traffic demand management, eliminating and isolating the risk of road works interfacing with traffic, and use of sensor technology. More annual independent reviews of TTM sites should also be conducted.
Other recommendations involve establishing TTM evaluation sub-groups, incorporating data collection, defining industry standards for near misses, and enabling open sharing of on-site safety data.
To find out more and read the full research report, visit the Waka Kotahi website.