“I wholeheartedly support this campaign to eradicate the abuse of staff working on our roads,” he said. “Road work staff undertake essential works to provide, improve and maintain infrastructure that we all depend on. Like everyone else, they should not have to accept abuse or threats in the workplace and have a right to be treated with respect and return home safely from their work. I would encourage all organisations involved in road works to adopt a zero tolerance approach to road worker abuse and to have appropriate measures in place to support staff and report issues to the appropriate authorities.”
The campaign to highlight the issues follows this month’s publication of a survey that found that one in four roadworkers has suffered mental health issues following verbal or physical abuse from the public. The survey of Scotland’s trunk road maintenance companies, including Amey, Bear Connect and Autolink also found that almost one in ten staff said they've been subject to physical abuse in the past year. One in five reported having missiles thrown at them in the past year and nearly two out of three roadworkers have been verbally abused by passing motorists.
The launch of the survey results earlier this month included Bear Scotland operative John Willox’s description of a recent incident. “I was operating a Stop/Go board at a work site,” he said. “A car pulled up, the driver got out and verbally abused me aggressively. Eventually he got back into his car and then tried to drive around me. He mounted the verge, knocked over the Stop/Go board and actually clipped the side of my body to get past.
“He continued to shout abuse at other members of the team and drove dangerously through the live works area, speeding off before the police arrived. It was lucky no-one was seriously injured. Why do people think they can act like that and put others at risk?”
Joe Docherty, HSEQ director for transport infrastructure at Amey and Bear Scotland managing director Iain Murray both outlined their greater use of cameras to capture such behaviour for use in prosecuting offenders.