30th September 2020

Petition aims to end road worker abuse

A petition to end road worker abuse has attracted more than 1,000 signatures from highway professionals in just 24 hours.

The government petition, which would make it a specific criminal offence to assault a highway worker, needs 100,000 signatures before the subject will be considered to be debated in Parliament.

The Stamp it Out campaign is a Safer Highways industry led initiative with the group calling on more of the industry to support its campaign to help eliminate road worker abuse.

Stamp It Out has the eventual desire to effect a change in the Members Bill around punishments for abuse of key workers and have the industry included as a part of this.

Led by Kari Sprostanova, Health and Safety Director of Balfour Beatty UKCS and Rachel Heaps, Busines Management Systems Manager at Tarmac, the taskforce also includes David Campbell, HSEQ Director of Eurovia Ringway, James Birch, Managing Director of Kier Highways – Local Authority, Joe Docherty, HSEQ Director of Amey Transportation and Dave Foster, SHEQ Director of Carnell.

Ms Sprostanova said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe at work. Nobody should ever be threatened, intimidated or assaulted because of the job they do. And yet this is a scenario faced by thousands of people who work on this country’s road networks every single day. Abuse of doctors, nurses, police officers and other key workers is not tolerated. Our road workers should not have to tolerate it either. This is why Safer Highways, in conjunction with representatives from across our supply chain have launched our Stamp It Out campaign, which aims to help toughen the legislation around abuse of road workers, support them and raise awareness of the vital role they play in keeping our infrastructure going. I am delighted to lead this campaign with Safer Highways, with an ambition to effect genuine and long-lasting change in the industry.”

Road worker abuse is a growing concern on both the local and strategic road networks in the UK as well as the wider highways and transport sectors, affecting the physical and mental health and wellbeing of workers on an alarmingly regular basis. Past incidents have been so severe, they have involved knives, shotguns and crossbows being pulled on workers as they go about their daily tasks.

Speaking about the launch of the petition, Karl Simons, Chief Health, Safety and Securities Officer at Thames Water, one of the project leads, said: “At Thames Water we have thousands of our people working every day on the public highway and their vital service should never be underestimated. Suffering physical or psychological abuse when undertaking this dangerous work is totally unacceptable and we absolutely must Stamp It Out”.

As part of the campaign Stamp it Out wants to provide free to access training around conflict resolution and also an app for workforces to be able to report instances of abuse in real time with a “you said, we did” feedback.

David Foster, HSEQ Director of Carnell, a Tier 2 contractor on the strategic road network and another lead of the Stamp it Out taskforce, added: ”If you value your safety or the safety of friends, relatives or colleagues who work on or around roads in any industry sector please sign the Stamp It Out petition. By signing the petition, you will help us to influence the Government to facilitate change and improve the safety of roadworkers throughout the country.

The culmination of the campaign will be a Respect our Roadworkers week – held w/c  21st June 2021 with summits taking place at the House of Lords hosted by the Department for Transport (DfT) and a second event in Scotland on 24th June backed by similar authorities north of the border.

The petition can be signed here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/548480