Making the Network Work
15 December 2016
Becky Hadley, HadstrongA year of events, fact-finding, consultation and round tables under the theme “Making the Network Work” was celebrated at the House of Commons last night.
Throughout 2016, the Road Safety Markings Association and its National Highways Academy has run a series of high-profile industry events, covering:
- road worker safety;
- integrating national and local roads UK;
- future skills to maintain the infrastructure; and
- integrated infrastructure on critical trade routes with mainland Europe.
“Some people have asked why it is that RSMA has sought to play such a central role through our ‘Making the Network Work’ series of events through 2016, when road markings represent such a small percentage of overall highways expenditure.
“The answer to this lies in the role played by road markings and the environment in which they are installed. It is widely acknowledged that road markings are critical to road safety. In the recent Road Safety Foundation report, 60% of the most improved roads, in terms of safety, crash reduction and lives saved, had road marking improvements at the core of the treatments implemented.
“Markings also have a direct impact on the efficiency of our road networks, not just by reducing accidents, but by enforcing lane discipline, providing clear instructions to drivers and through the assurance they provide, aiding the free flow of traffic through rural and urban areas, congested streets and urban clearways.”
He went on to underline the importance of the skills agenda – on which the roadmarking sector has taken a leading role, introducing employer-led specialist apprenticeship schemes to drive up skills and change the demographic make-up of the workforce; whilst the RSMA was also the first to define and implement a formal and required skills refresher system to combat skills fade amongst the workforce, thereby underwriting safety and efficiency in the delivery of road markings.
Speaking at the event, Transport Minister, the Rt Hon John Hayes, said: “Our Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy makes a commitment to 30,000 apprentices by the end of this Parliament across roads and rail sectors down the supply chain. This sets a stretching target for new female entrants to engineering and technical apprenticeships.”
The Minister also spoke about the opportunities generated by the £275 million fund for one-off local authority major infrastructure schemes.
Geoff Allister, Executive Director of the Highways Term Maintenance Association thanked the RSMA on behalf of the highways sector, and called for longer term certainty in local authority funding, to give companies and the supply chain the confidence to invest in people, plant and equipment. He also stressed the importance of achieving a balance between new build infrastructure and the need to maintain the existing network.
He renewed his call on the highways sector to implement innovative approaches to protect vulnerable workers, and to collate and report all incidents of road worker abuse, describing it as “one of the biggest issues facing the industry”.
In closing the event, George Lee asked guests to respond by the end of January with opinions, case studies, developing programmes or projects for inclusion in the RSMA report. The report will focus on:
- road worker and road user health & safety
- strategic and operational delivery
- workforce capability and development
- sector capacity
- innovation at all levels.