The Motorway: Life in the Fast Lane

RoWSaF Strategy 2015

The RoWSaF strategy was published with the aim of taking our latest ambitions forward with a pace and to secure further safety improvements for road workers. The 2015 strategy introduces a number of priority topic areas:

  • Reducing the growing problem of incursions into works areas;
  • Raising the standards of occupational health and behavioural safety;
  • Improving driver awareness of roadworks, through better education;
  • More effectively communicating knowledge of RoWSaF innovations to Local Authorities.

The strategy also acknowledges RoWSaF’s achievements since the launch of the original Highways Agency Road Worker Safety strategy in October 2009, not least of which is the work to eliminate live carriageway crossings on foot.

It also refers to the two existing (Highways England and RoWSaF) road worker safety targets due to be delivered by the end of 2016:

  • Aim to eliminate the need for road workers to be on foot on a live carriageway by Dec 2016; and
  • Substantially reduce the risk to those working on the rear or around works vehicles on live carriageways by Dec 2016.

Download the new RoWSaF strategy

About RoWSaF

The Road Worker Safety Forum (RoWSaF) brings together stakeholders from across the highways industry in the UK to share expertise and knowledge, so that we can:

  • improve the health, safety and wellbeing of our road workers.
  • reduce road worker risks by developing improvements in how we work.

It is an industry group established in 2001, promoting the health, safety and wellbeing of road workers on all types of roads in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Members are drawn from UK National Road Authorities, enforcement agencies, scheme designers, contractors, and their associations and are representative of the following organisations:

  • Department for Transport
  • Highways England
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Transport Scotland
  • Welsh Government
  • Transport Northern Ireland
  • Service providers working for
    UK National Road Authorities
  • National Police Chiefs’ Council
  • Traffic Management Contractors Association
  • Highways Term Maintenance Association
  • Mineral Products Association
  • Association for Consultancy and Engineering
  • The SURVIVE Group
  • The Institute of Advanced Motorists


Membership also includes representatives of leading contractors and designers.

Why do we still need RoWSaF?

The average fatality rate for those working on the Highways England road network is one of the highest amongst all employment sectors in the UK. Over the past ten years, 13 service provider workers and 2 Highways England traffic officers* were killed while working on motorways and major A roads in England.

While the long term trend is downwards, fatal incidents involving workers on Highways England roads is still a cause for concern:

Year Fatalities – service
provider staff
Fatalities – Traffic
2006 2 0
2007 0 0
2008 1 0
2009 1 0
2010 6 0
2011 0 0
2012 1 1
2013 0 0
2014 0 0
2015 2 0
2016 (1 Jan – 24 May) 0 1

There is, therefore, an ongoing need for the whole highways industry to work together, to significantly reduce risks for all workers and to continue to strive for zero harm.

*Source: Highways England, May 2016: Service provider workers include all service provider personnel working on the Highways England (formerly Highways Agency) road network.  These include all workers contracted to work for Highways England (formerly Highways Agency) in traffic management activities, incident support services, maintenance and renewal schemes, major projects, vehicle recovery, inspection and survey work and any other activities.

Highways England have identified road workers, as they are directly exposed to risks from road users, as a separate operational work area, due to the high risk nature of their work where live traffic is present.

The Motorway: Life in the Fast Lane

The motorway: life in the fast lane

Road worker safety has been under the spotlight as part of a new BBC documentary about life on the M6.

The motorway: life in the fast lane takes an unprecedented look at the often unseen and unappreciated workers who help keep one of the UK’s busiest motorways running.

Major Projects Delivery Hub - Health Safety & Wellbeing Action Group

Highways England set up this group to create a consistently high standard across all Major Projects schemes, driving improvements by capturing best practice, lessons learnt and innovation.  The membership of this group is made up of health and safety specialists from Highways England's delivery partners.  A number of focus areas have been identified by the group to collaboratively develop best practice guidance. The aim is to identify the current highest health safety & wellbeing standard, implement this as the new minimum, and then look to raise it further. The Action Group produces monthly health and safety briefings to update on activities and help raise awareness of lessons learnt from incidents and innovations in Health Safety & Wellbeing.

CIHT Awards 2015

Click here for a complete list of winners and shortlsted entries

The CIHT Awards 2015 took place on Tuesday, June 9 at the Landmark London Hotel. Roadworker safety projects recognised included:

CIHT / Lafarge Tarmac Health & Safety at Work Award

Winner: Safer Roadside Working - Carnell Support Services Limited were recognised for their survey/welfare vehicle, which has been designed and developed to control the extent and circumstances in which the company’s people are exposed to live traffic when surveying alongside a high speed road. 

CIHT / Colas Technological Application Award

Winner: A1 Leeming to Barton ECI - Carillion Morgan Sindall and Redspeed International worked together with North Yorkshire Police, Highways England and the supply chain to develop a project that aimed to create a cultural change in large goods vehicles (LGV) driver behaviour through roadworks. Warnings, education and enforcement were used to bring about an 85% reduction in lane 2 violations, increasing safety for road users and road workers.

Highways Magazine Excellence Awards 2015

Download a complete list of winners and shortlsted entries

The 2015 awards were held at the Lancaster London and recognised the following roadworker safety projects:

Site Safety Initiative Award

Winner: Eurovia were recognised for their conflict resolution training, which addresses the real concerns regarding the verbal and physical abuse of our workforce. A bespoke training course has been developed and delivered with significant results.

Judges’ Special Merit Award 2015

Winner: TRL, Highways England and the Road Workers’ Safety Forum were jointly recognised for their work to eliminate road worker risks from crossing live carriageways. The judges said: “This initiative has changed the way we view traffic management on motorways.”