TfL road worker injuries double between 2020 and 2021
The number of workers injured in road maintenance or construction activities for Transport for London (TfL) has more than doubled between 2020 and 2021.
Figures communicated to NCE following a freedom of information request show that there were 55 injuries in 2021, compared to only 27 in 2020 (see table below). The 55 injuries are also the most recorded in a single year for at least a decade.
In 2021, this breaks down to 46 minor injuries and nine serious injuries, compared to 22 minor injuries and five serious injuries in 2020. There were no fatal incidents in the two years.
According to the figures, there was a steady increase in the number of victims between 2012, when there were 12 injuries, and 2018, when there were 52. The number then fell to 42 in 2019 and 27 in 2020 before rising again in 2021. There was one fatal victim in 2018.
The data provided relates to collisions over the period 2012-2021, which includes workers involved in collisions with other road users or, for example, street furniture.
Casualties of pedestrian road maintenance workers in the Greater London area 2012 – 2021
AA Roads Policy Officer Jack Cousens highlighted the risks of working as a road maintenance worker.
“Road maintenance engineers are some of the bravest workers in the country,” he said. “Not only do they work in all weathers, but they frequently work in dangerous conditions.
“Every driver is responsible for reducing the risk to engineers by slowing down and leaving as much space as possible in a stretch of roadworks when people are working hard. If we want smoother and safer roads, we need to do more be careful to protect those who carry out the work.
A number of innovations are being developed to help improve the safety of road workers. Earlier this year, Balfour Beatty deployed an automated cone laying machine on the M25, an industry first.
Developed by Highway Care and its Switzerland-based technology partner, Senn Engineering, following an investment from National Highways’ Innovation Designated Funds program, the machine was designed to minimize the safety risks associated with setting cones.
It aims to reduce incidents by minimizing the time that traffic management officers spend physically on the road network.
Although TfL could not confirm the reason for the increase in road accidents in 2021, its report on collisions and road fatalities with injuries (among all road users, rather than specifically road workers) states that 2020 has been “heavily affected” by the Covid-19 pandemic “with a number of lockdowns which have brought significant changes to people’s travel behavior”. This led to “a significant drop in the number of victims” in 2020, the report said.
He continues: “While 2021 was also impacted by the pandemic, restrictions were less stringent and there were more periods of relative normality. Loss trends for 2021 should be interpreted in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The period since March 2020 has seen a reduction in travel, particularly during lockdown periods, and a corresponding reduction in road accidents. Most legal limits were removed in July 2021, corresponding to an increase in activity, followed by a temporary reintroduction of the measures in December 2021.”
Do you like what you read? To receive daily and weekly New Civil Engineer newsletters, click here.