Why aren’t all construction clients, contractors and suppliers taking road safety seriously?

Posted On: 
10th August 2018

If we want practical solutions for road safety, and particularly for the most vulnerable of road users, why doesn’t Government insist that all public sector construction contracts require suppliers to be CLOCS compliant, asks MPA.

In 2016, there were nearly 1,800 fatalities on Britain’s roads. Of these, 448 were pedestrians, 102 cyclists and 319 motorcyclists, so a total of at least 869 vulnerable road users. In comparison, 816 car occupants and 14 HGV occupants were killed. The total is down two thirds on thirty years ago but the numbers remain stark. Given that for every pedestrian killed there are another 11 seriously injured and for every cyclist killed there are another 33 seriously injured, there are a lot of people narrowly escaping death every year due to the excellence of our emergency and medical services and sheer luck.

Unsurprisingly, politicians are concerned. The Department for Transport has been consulting on promoting walking and cycling and related safety issues and the Mayor of London will implement new safety requirements for lorries entering London in 2020.

But there is a great deal industry could to manage road deliveries to reduce risks for all vulnerable road users without waiting for new laws and regulations.

The Mineral Products Industry moves a million tonnes of materials daily and although the industry is the biggest user of rail freight and a major user of water transport, the nature of our major customer, the construction industry, means that pretty much all final deliveries to sites are by road.

Some industry businesses and clients have a long commitment to road safety, often driven by horrific accidents and their consequences. Back in 2012 the MPA introduced policies to improve vulnerable road user safety as it had become clear that construction HGVs were involved in a disproportionate number of collisions with cyclists. Soon after that Transport for London worked with a range of interested industry and road safety organisations, including MPA, to develop and implement the Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS) initiative.

CLOCS recognises that all parts of industry have a part to play in road safety. Suppliers and their hauliers should ensure drivers receive targeted training and fit HGVs with additional safety equipment beyond legal requirements, contractors should ensure delivery sites have good access and safe unloading facilities and clients should make adherence to CLOCS a procurement requirement. The advantages of CLOCS are that it involves a wide range of stakeholders, is both practical and forward-looking and provides a standard which can be used anywhere. No-one needs to design a new standard or procedure to minimise collisions between HGs and vulnerable road users – CLOCS is the template and will evolve.

So if we want practical solutions for road safety, and particularly for the most vulnerable of road users, why doesn’t Government insist that all public sector construction contracts require suppliers to be CLOCS compliant? Why don’t all contractors and private sector construction clients, the vast majority of whom are clearly committed to on-site safety, operate in accordance with CLOCS and insist their suppliers do?  Why are some major infrastructure developers spending vast sums of public money committed and others not?

Go to the CLOCS website ( www.clocs.org.uk ) and you can see the range of resources and the businesses and organisations involved. The big mystery isn’t why these organisations are involved. The big mystery is why others, including those who give plenty of lip service to “safety” and “community”, are not.