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TfL: contractors should take road risk responsibility

27 May 2013

Body wants to see responsibilities extended in wake of cyclist deaths

Transport for London is behind a new drive to extend contractors’ legal safety responsibilities to include road risk – but it’s hoping the construction sector will take “ownership” of a contentious issue.

TfL hosted a construction-sector summit earlier in May to discuss how the 12 recommendations laid out in its February report Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety could be taken forward.

As CM reported at the time, the HSE gave the proposals, which included extending the scope of RIDDOR and the CDM Regulations to road safety, a cool reception.

But TfL is hoping to that the regulator’s reluctance to get involved will allow the industry to design a safety framework on its own terms.

What's in the TfL report:

  • Organisations with five or more staff who drive for work should reach the ISO39001 standard on road traffic safety management
  • Vehicle manufacturers should work to improve vehicle and mirror design
  • Construction Logistics Plans  must include the definition of safer routes to construction sites
  • “Construction vehicles” should be listed as a separate category in “Stats 19” road accident report forms
  • Further research should be conducted to understand the effects of pay per load contracts

Ian Wainwright, road freight programme manager at TfL, told CM: “There’s a feeling things need to be done better and differently. It looks like the HSE doesn’t want to include work-related road risk as part of site monitoring, but now the industry is saying we have to take responsibility for this.”

TfL’s report followed analysis that seven out of 16 fatal cycle accidents killed on London’s roads in 2011 involved construction vehicles.

The review called for changes in the law to extend contractor’s safety responsibilities under the  RIDDOR regulations beyond the site boundaries, bringing a greater onus on contractors to monitor and, where necessary, improve driver behaviour. In addition, it proposed that road safety issues should be included in the Construction Phase Plan, required under the CDM Regulations.

It also proposes that lorries should not be admitted to sites if they do not carry the full range of safety features and proximity sensors, and that contractors and clients should agree wider delivery slots so that drivers feel under less pressure to keep to tight schedules.

The summit was attended by Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and industry bodies including the Considerate Constructors Scheme and Constructing Excellence, as well as leading developers and contractors including Mace, Lend Lease and Land Securities.

The event was held just weeks after a spate of accidents on London roads involving cyclists and lorries. In April, UCL climate scientist Katharine Giles was killed under the wheels of a “tipper truck” after waiting to turn left at traffic lights.

The scene at the junction of Victoria Street and Palace Street where Katharine Giles lost her life in April. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Following the summit, three working groups have been convened to address different aspects of the problem: the design of construction vehicles; contractual practices and road safety culture; and operational practices. TfL will convene another summit in six months to review progress.

Wainwright said: “We want to facilitate this so that it comes from the industry, rather than us dictating it. It’s not about us as a public authority sitting at the top and passing a whole series of regulations. It’s got to be about what’s going to work and change behaviour. We’re making sure there’s a broad involvement across the industry, and want second tier contractors to get involved too. And if the industry says ‘we’re going to take this on’, that’s the win, because then they’ll manage the compliance themselves.”

But he also added that any resulting scheme would be likely to apply nationally, rather than just in the capital. “Should a cyclist in Manchester be any less safe than one in London? That doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me,” he said.

Around 70 organisations were at the summit, including the Construction Equipment Association, the Freight Transport Association, and the Builders Merchants Federation.

The summit also coincided with the publication of guidance to contractors on integrating cyclist and pedestrian safety to Construction Logistics Plans, details of how TfL would promote best practice through procurement on its own projects, and a “toolkit” for freight operators.

Comments

What do we do, sit a safety officer in the cab of each vehicle? And of course we come to the legal and financial nightmare of an accident, the only people who going to benefit will be the accident-chasing lawyers. In all practicality we need cyclists to obey the highway code and stop creeping up beside vehicles, we could consider cameras on both sides of lorries so the driver can see, but then we run into the police who will charge the drivers for not being in control of their vehicles.
Tfl needs to concentrate on more sensible issues

Andrew Glenister, 31 May 2013

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