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 road user 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 existing (Highways England and RoWSaF) road worker safety targets:

  • 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
  • Department for Infrastructure 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. Since 01 January 2006, 14 service provider workers and 2 Highways England traffic officers* were killed whilst working on motorways and major A roads in England. [Updated on Fri 30.06.17.]

While the long term fatality trend is downwards, fatal and serious injury incidents involving workers on Highways England roads is still a cause for concern.

The personal injury incident information is shown in the two tables below.

These personal injury incidents occurred on the Highways England [HE] road network (from 01.04.2015 onwards), or on the Highways Agency [HA] road network (up to 31.03.2015), for:

  • service provider staff, [service provider staff are not employees of Highways England].
  • Highways England Traffic Officers.

The information supplied includes service provider staff and Traffic Officer personal injury incidents on HA or HE motorways and all purpose trunk roads in England.

The two tables do not include any road user personal injury incidents.

The two tables do not include any “near miss incidents”, as a “near miss incident” does not result in any personal injuries.

The service provider staff personal injury incident database does not differentiate between “road worker” and “construction and maintenance worker”.

With regard to RIDDOR notifiable incidents, resulting in lost time of more than 3 days, this changed on 06.04.2012 to incidents resulting in lost time of more than 7 days.

With regard to service provider staff "Slight Injuries", the data in this column is as reported to Highways England. It is anticipated that there is very significant under-reporting by service providers to Highways England, for Slight Injuries.

Service Provider Staff
Year Fatalities Serious Injuries (RIDDOR Specified/Major Injury and RIDDOR over 7 days injury) Slight Injuries (no lost time injuries & less than 7 day lost time injuries)
2006 2 16 53
2007 0 15 41
2008 1 22 231
2009 1 36 615
2010 6 28 766
2011 0 14 737
2012 1 29 557
2013 0 30 478
2014 0 30 412
2015 2 44 363
2016 1 39 183
up to Fri 30.06.17
0 9 52

Traffic Officer Service
Year Fatalities Serious Injuries (RIDDOR Specified/Major Injury and RIDDOR over 7 days injury) Slight Injuries (no lost time injuries & less than 7 day lost time injuries)
2006 0 19 340
2007 0 42 434
2008 0 26 390
2009 0 32 385
2010 0 34 325
2011 0 35 256
2012 1 20 232
2013 0 22 218
2014 0 21 210
2015 0 17 258
2016 1 12 239
up to Fri 30.06.17
0 6 113

This personal injury incident information from our databases is supplied by Highways England and is Crown Copyright.

Most Crown Copyright information can be re-used under the Open Government Licence. For information about the Open Government Licence and about re-using Crown Copyright information please refer to The National Archives website.

The Motorway: Life in the Fast Lane

Highways Magazine Excellence Awards 2016

Download a complete list of winners

The 2016 awards were held on Thursday 06 October 2016, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London and recognised the Highways England Managing Fatigue in the Workplace project:

Site Safety Initiative Award

Winner: Highways England

Managing Fatigue in the Workplace

Highways England won this prestigious national award for their approach to managing fatigue in the workplace. On choosing Highways England as the winner of the award, the judges commented: “The project offers significant health and safety and financial benefits, including increased productivity and reduced employee absenteeism”.

Highways England commented: “For the first time, there are best practice documents on Managing Fatigue in the Workplace, for all service providers in the highways industry. Working closely with the Health & Safety Executive, Highways England, supported by Atkins, have created a level playing field for the rail and highways industries, for managing fatigue in the workplace, in accordance with current health & safety legislation.

“The new policy and guidance publications represent a significant milestone - a major turning point in the highways industry where fatigue management in the workplace is now being taken seriously by all, especially with regard to night time working.”

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.