Safety in Roadworks
From initial planning to roadworks project completion, the main concern should be the safety of road users, pedestrians and workers. Every reasonable effort must be made to minimise disruptions caused by roadworks to the public and site personnel.
The legal obligations are outlined in the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013. These legal obligations include conducting a site-specific hazard identification and risk assessment.
Part 13 of the Construction Regulations 2013 establishes a legislative framework for ensuring the safety of road workers and users during road construction. Addressing the inherent risks in roadworks, the regulations focus on key requirements, such as qualified personnel with valid CSCS cards, competent supervision, the use of appropriate physical barriers. The objective is to ensure well-managed construction work on roads, integrating hazard identification, risk assessments, and controls for the safety of all. The Road Authority bears overall responsibility for public road maintenance and construction, while the Garda Síochána serves as the traffic authority. Consultation with these entities is advisable before commencing any temporary traffic measures.
In cases where a public road closure is proposed, adherence to the statutory process outlined in Section 75 of the Roads Act 1993 is necessary. This process, overseen by the Road Authority, involves public consultation, addressing objections, and may take several weeks.
For proposed road closures with potentially severe effects on road users, residents, or businesses, an advance information campaign is recommended. This could include explanatory letters to the surrounding area, notifications to local media and road watch services, advance signs detailing the works’ nature and necessity, and liaison meetings with emergency services, residents, and businesses to clarify the project details.
Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual Ireland sets standards for temporary traffic management during roadworks and events, aiming to establish consistent and high-quality safety measures. It covers aspects such as high-visibility clothing, signage, barriers, and lighting, mandating a qualified traffic management team for effective planning and execution. Chapter 8 also addresses the visibility of road and maintenance vehicles, specifying that vehicles on high-speed roads must have Chapter 8 chevrons to comply with regulations.
Compliance with Regulation 97 enhances the safety of road workers and ensures the safe passage of all road users through construction sites.
Regulation 97(1) mandates safety measures for construction work on roads, covering contractors, employers, material suppliers, and those working on a site controlled by another contractor. It addresses hazards arising from reduced road width due to activities like scaffolding, street structure maintenance, and road repair.
Specifically, the regulation requires:
- Adequate guarding and lighting: Proper protection measures, including traffic signs, must be implemented based on the specific needs of all individuals, considering disabilities and language preferences. Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual provides guidance on roadwork signs.
- Supervision by a competent person: A competent person with a valid SCSC card must supervise roadworks, particularly focusing on temporary traffic management arrangements.
- Presence of CSCS card holder: When the supervisor is absent, at least one person with a valid CSCS card must be on-site at all times during work, possessing knowledge of health and safety at roadworks.
- Management of road obstruction: If construction obstructs a roadway or diverts pedestrians, people with disabilities, or cyclists onto a roadway, a competent person with a valid CSCS card must be present during the installation, modification, or removal of road signs, lighting, and guarding.
Regulation 97(2) assigns responsibility for the implementation of signing, lighting, and guarding during construction work on roads. The competent person, possessing the valid Signing, Lighting, and Guarding Construction Skills Certification Scheme (SLG CSCS) card, acts as the Temporary Traffic Operations Supervisor. This individual ensures compliance with the traffic management plan and risk assessments. If concerns arise, they communicate with the supervisor or directly notify the Project Supervisor for the Design Process (PSDP) and the Traffic Management Designer for necessary plan revisions. Regular checks are conducted to maintain compliance and address non-compliance promptly.
Schedule 5 to the Construction Regulations outlines relevant CSCS skills for road works, including assisting in health and safety implementation at roadworks. It requires at least one person on-site, possessing the Health and Safety at Road Works CSCS scheme card, to report concerns and assist in implementing the safety management system. The training covers roadwork health and safety, and individuals with the certification card may make minor repairs to signing, lighting, and guarding. Their role also includes reporting any safety concerns to their employer or supervisor.