Beyond the Barriers: Road Construction Safety Issues from the Office and the RoadsideAuthor/Presenter: Debnath, Ashim Kumar; Banks, Tamara D.; Blackman, Ross A.; Dovan, Nathan; Haworth, Narelle L.; Biggs, Herbert C.
Conceptually, the management of safety at roadworks can be seen in a three level framework. At the regulatory level, roadworks operate at the interface between the work environment, governed by workplace health and safety regulations, and the road environment, which is subject to road traffic regulations and practices. At the organizational level, national, state and local governments plan and purchase road construction and maintenance which are then delivered in-house or tendered out to large construction companies who often subcontract multiple smaller companies to supply services and labor. At the operational level, roadworks are difficult to isolate from the general public, hindering effective occupational health and safety controls. This study, from the State of Queensland, Australia, examines how well this tripartite framework functions. It includes reviews of organizational policy and procedures documents; interviews with 24 subject matter experts from various road construction and maintenance organizations, and on-site interviews with 66 road construction personnel. The study identified several factors influencing the translation of safety policies into practice including the cost of safety measures in the context of competitive tendering, lack of firm evidence of the effectiveness of safety measures, and pressures to minimize disruption to the travelling public.