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Roadworkers tragedy reignites safety debate

Double fatality as workers set out M6 road cones leads to call for tightening of safety procedures

SAFETY experts will urge the industry to lay on extra protection for roadworkers after two men working for Amey Mouchel were killed last week after being mown down by a motorist.

The accident happened when traffic management was being installed in the third lane of the M6 southbound in Cheshire between junctions 19 and 20. Central reservation barrier repair work was due to be carried out overnight.

Raymond Schofield, 48, from Warrington and Stephen Colter, 41, from Runcorn in Cheshire were putting out road cones when they were struck by a vehicle.The female occupant of the car, Mehrunnisa Yusuf, 31, from Preston, also suffered fatal injuries.

Amey Mouchel is the Highways Agency's maintenance contractor for the Area 13 region covering 660 km of road in north-west England, including the M6 and A66.

Members of the Roadworkers Safety Forum, a pressure group backed by the Highways Agency and Health and Safety Executive, are expected to call on two of its own stakeholders, the police and HA, to reveal the details of the tragedy to prevent similar incidents happening again.

One member, Traffic Management Contractors Association chairman Richard Pearson, said: 'The forum was set up in the first place following a similar incident and this is sure to reopen the debate. I will certainly push for more information on this incident so that we can learn from it.'

The forum was set up as the Safe Practice in Temporary Traffic Management Organisation. It was renamed in April this year to incorporate all work carried out by roadworkers.

A spokesman for the HA said: 'The Highways Agency and its contractors work to very strict guidelines when installing traffic management.We would like to express our condolences to the families and colleagues involved in this tragic accident.'

The HA was due to trial a rolling roadblock on the M40 this week, which is a new traffic management measure allowing roadworkers to set out cones safely.

Road construction is one of the most dangerous occupations in the UK and is statistically more dangerous than a career in the armed forces. In 2002 five road workers were killed and 29 seriously injured by vehicles during roadworks.