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Protect lane closures with crash cushions

LETTERS

Sir, I was pleased to read your feature 'Hazards of life in the fast lane' (Construction News, September 9).At last, recognition that road maintenance work is one of the most hazardous jobs in the industry. But are we doing all we can to control these hazards?

The key comment is made by Gerry Duffy: 'We believe health and safety issues shouldn't be commercially driven.' Unfortunately, for many years, main contractors have procured lowest-price subcontracts and safety has been compromised. It is apt that the main photograph was of two crash cushions, one of them damaged.

Local authorities pioneered the use of cone bodies and crash cushions in the early 1990s and developed safe systems of work to protect roadworkers, while setting out lane closures on a daily basis.

Through Highways Agency procurement methods, major contractors now find themselves undertaking work that requires traffic management on a much more regular basis and they are now meeting with the Health and Safety Executive, HA and CITB to sponsor a video. I wonder if the video will show how best to use a crash cushion? A few years ago, the use of a crash cushion was not recognised as essential by the commercial sector but this was probably not for commercial reasons.

We still set out tapers on high-speed roads without crash cushions and operatives believe it is safe to use a mobile phone at the same time. The industry needs to get its act together by getting all parties, including local authorities, to meet to agree a safe system of work for the establishment of lane closures on high-speed roads.

Mr Duffy, group health, safety and environment director at Accord, you are dead right.Roadworkers in the Flintshire County Council area will always be protected by a crash cushion when setting out tapers and commercial considerations do not even enter the equation.

Dave Faulkner Chief engineering services officer Flintshire County Council