We wanted to follow up on the series of events held by the Road Safety Markings Association/National Highways Academy throughout last year.
 
We set out to look across the entire highways sector and how the sector as a whole could meet the challenges faced in the key areas of: road worker health and safety; industry skills shortages; delivering a coherent and sustainable network; and the road safety demands on that network.
 
With input and participation from more than 300 organisations and individuals, the series of events and report, Making the Network Work, offer a comprehensive overview of the issues and some of the actions that could be taken to meet the identified challenges and thereby underwrite successful delivery of government and client objectives.
 
The report, which was launched at Traffex, identifies 39 key structural and operational outcomes and actions across the four key areas that would address blockages and barriers to the sector delivering successfully throughout the next ten years.
 
The report, Making the Network Work, is a demonstration of the collective working that is emerging so strongly within the Highways sector; with a range of outcomes and proposals across inter-connected issues within the sector. Many of these outcomes and proposals are mutually reinforcing and whilst not every contributor is likely to agree with every one of them, they do represent probably the broadest and most in-depth expression of the sector’s concerns and the potential solutions to those concerns.
 
The issues that have been identified need to remain firmly on the agenda: they ask important questions of the industry, and our ability to deal with them will form the basis of the industry in the future.
 
Some of the key outcomes of the report include:
 
In Health & Safety
•    There is a need for structured integration of health & safety practice throughout the entire supply chain, with shared best practice at all levels to drive cultural change and to consolidate such change.
•    Integration needs to identify and acknowledge areas of specific corporate responsibilities especially in areas of specialist operations where ‘blanket’ solutions may not be appropriate and specialist sector specific demands may drive best practice.
 
In Delivery of network improvements
•    Challenge Funding approaches drive efficiencies in targeting and delivering better asset management, however, a singular focus on such approaches risks overlooking the core structural failure in parts of the network, resulting from long term underfunding and/or ineffective maintenance at a local authority level. An independent review is required to evaluate how deterioration can be arrested and reversed in a planned manner.
•    Delivery at all levels needs to focus on customer need and communication.
 
In Skills
•    Beacon initiatives exist within the sector, such as the London Highways Academy of Excellence, reaching out to excluded groups and providing basic skills and related opportunities; such initiatives need to duplicated across the country.
•    Specialist Apprenticeships Schemes, such as road markings, are under threat from rigid government structures and this approach may cause further dislocation within specialist highway sectors in addition to potential economic imbalances
 
In Road Safety
•    Demographic change will place significant demands on safety infrastructure with an increase in older drivers numbers through to 2035; aligned with economic demands relating to an older workforce and the demand for maintained social interaction by older drivers, the demands on performance from safety infrastructure is likely to increase.
•    Road Safety infrastructure is needs to be adapted to reflect the changing diversity of road users including cyclists and pedestrians.
 
I hope you will take a look at the full report here:

Making the Network Work
 
The RSMA/NHA are seeking to actively engage with partners, key-stakeholders and interested parties. A number of workshops will held on the issues outlined in this report in order to further develop the collaboration behind the events, to share best practice and to ensure continuity of engagement. We would welcome your feedback and involvement to take the issues further.