Every single day, road workers endure abuse that ranges from verbal threats to physical attacks and life-threatening vehicle incursions.
In 2020, the number of these abuse incidents has risen by 10%. This is despite the significant reduction in traffic flow as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
This is the situation that the ‘Stamp it Out’ campaign is trying to change with a petition to give highway workers the same legal protections as emergency workers.
What’s the problem with roadworker abuse?
The latest figures show that 330 incidents of abuse were reported from Sept 2019 to October 2020. That means an incident is logged almost every day. And that’s not taking into account those incidents that go unreported.
This is happening on all types of roads across the strategic network and range from reports of highway workers being spat at, verbally abused, having objects thrown at them and physically attacked by road users.
Closely linked to this is the problem of vehicle incursions with motorist frustrations often leading to drivers deliberately breaching safety zones and putting roadwork lives at risk.
What’s the ‘Stamp it Out’ campaign calling for?
The Stamp it Out campaign is a cross-industry project that aims to raise public awareness, encourage incident reporting and improve the legal protections for highway workers.
To achieve the legal change, the group has launched a petition which calls on politicians to give roadworkers the same legal protections as other key workers. This would make it a criminal act to abuse highway workers in their place of employment.
The initial target is to collect the 10,000 names required to get a formal response from the UK Government. If it reaches 100,000, the issue will be considered for a parliamentary debate.
Kari Sprostanova, Health and Safety Director of Balfour Beatty UKCS, is one of the leaders of the campaign. She 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.”
Jordan Saunders, Business Development Manager for Highways and Plant Hire said:
“We fully support the campaign and no roadworker should have to face this kind of abuse for simply doing their job. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role our road crews play in keeping the country moving during difficult times and they deserve respect.”
Want to know more about Stamp it Out?
You can find out more about the group’s aims and the plans for Respect Our Roadworkers week of events in 2021 here.