With the summer holidays in full swing, the events season has taken a break whilst organisations across the industry manage the influx of requests for time off and annual leave, says Jemma Callow. But with September creeping in over the horizon, Clearview Intelligence is preparing to jump straight back into the events calendar with two big shows both taking place in the same week and both focusing on the same issue; roadworker safety.
With much of the industry focused on delivering safety schemes that will protect drivers, the roadworkers who install them should not be forgotten amongst the flurry of KSI stats, schedule of works and solution delivery. So, it is great to see events that concentrate on the welfare and wellbeing of the roadworkers who risk themselves to protect others.
At Clearview, we understand the importance of protecting the physical and mental wellbeing of roadworkers. Every day, we have engineers out on the field installing our solutions, working amongst live traffic and facing the associated risks. Whilst we do everything we can to protect their welfare – appropriate clothing, safe lane closures, correct PPE etc – we should not stop from trying to improve on our efforts. Aside from the obvious physical risks of working on busy highways with traffic travelling in close proximity at high speeds, there are also risks to mental health.
Remaining mindful of the risks
In recent years, there has been a national focus on raising awareness of mental health issues and symptoms with the NHS reporting one in four adults will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. Previously, mental health held a stigma and was not discussed but with a nationwide awareness campaign more people are understanding the symptoms and speaking up.
Most people are familiar with the obvious mental health terms; depression, bipolar, stress. But there are many more illnesses which research suggests derive from four key areas; biology, genetics, psychological trauma and the environment.
Whilst we as an industry cannot influence factors such as biology and genetics, we can be understanding and supportive of them. However, we can work together to ensure the working environment that our engineers are exposed to does not negatively impact upon their mental wellbeing. Stress. Anxiety. Anger. Panic attacks. Loneliness. Sleep deprivation. All factors which can be affected by the working environment. And all factors which we have the power to influence.
Working in the highway is a naturally stressful situation and this can present itself in a variety of ways. Anxiety or panic attacks about the risks. Anger at the abuse received from drivers. Lack of sleep through worry which has the knock-on effect of being tired and less productive or aware the following day.
And loneliness. Although often presented as an elderly person sitting alone, the Office for National Statistics actually shows loneliness is in fact more common in younger people, particularly those who are single. Solitary working with no human contact can be isolating, particularly for those who live alone and may not have someone to return home to.
All of the above are feasible scenarios for roadworkers. And all can be addressed to mitigate the impact.
Reducing exposure to reduce the risks
Most of the steps are simple; engaging with employees regularly will help to build strong working relationships which will enable you to recognise changes in behaviour that may be brought about through mental health issues. People are more likely to confide about problems if they have a trusted relationship. The regular contact can also help to combat loneliness; just a single phone call can be enough to help stop the feeling of isolation.
A safe environment is also essential. Reducing the time spent in the carriageway reduces roadworker exposure and subsequently the risks and potential impact on mental health. Solutions that are faster to install, require less maintenance and have a longer operational lifespan can achieve this.
When it comes to vehicle detection, Clearview’s M100 wireless vehicle detection sensors are up to five times faster to install than inductive loops. Without the need for a power source, it eliminates the need for time consuming drilling, ducting and trenching across carriageways. Instead the sensors are installed independently of each other in the centre of the lane, also reducing the need for full carriageway closures.
Not only does this minimise the disruption to drivers – and the risk of abuse – but it increases the distance between workers and live traffic, reducing stress and anxiety levels. Also, as the M100s only require a single hole to be cored, it means workers never need turn their back to oncoming traffic.
Clearview goes on the road
The M100 is an example of safer solutions that help prioritise the welfare of the roadworkers. More can always be done and in September, Clearview will join industry experts in sharing ideas and best practice to ensure roadworker wellbeing remains at the forefront of all installations.
We will be at the Kier Health and Safety event in Cambridge from 10 – 12 September and the Safer Highways Summit in Birmingham on 11 September. Come along to the events or contact us directly to see how we can work with you to deliver a safer journey experience for everyone.