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Sun February 23 2020

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Red light zone safeguards road workers

22 Feb 19 A life-saving red light zone has been devised for road workers in the northeast of England – one that keeps them clear from moving machinery.

Red light spells danger
Red light spells danger

Highways contractor Colas UK commissioned Highway Service – a Gateshead-based construction machinery specialist – to devise a way of beaming a clear red danger zone around its biggest machines.

Colas believes the system will prevent accidents and save lives during night shifts.

Highway Service devised a way of projecting a beam of red light to warn operatives that they are in the danger area if they are inside the red line.

Although it has no commercial interest in the system, Colas hopes to see it adopted throughout the industry. Other UK contractors are already expressing interest, it says.

Colas UK chief executive Carl Fergusson said:  “Our approach at Colas is to inspire, pioneer and freely share improvements to safety. Our Colas Group innovation campus outside Paris is devoted to research and puts us at the cutting edge in responding to, or pre-empting, technical and social challenges by fostering the development of new products, processes and techniques.”

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Mr Fergusson added: ‘As a major player in the UK alongside our expertise from the rest of the world, we are keen to foster relationships with other expert UK businesses which create innovative solutions which will be good for the whole industry – not just ourselves. We want to share this technology and are already sign-posting other firms to the developers, Highway Service.”

Working with Colas operational teams, Highway Service took existing technology and developed it to create an LED-lit red zone around the Colas construction machines. Throwing a light cordon around pavers and rollers leaves Colas staff in no doubt where workers and vehicles should be – and where they should not venture.

The system uses LED lights located on top of the machine or on the canopy. At night, these throw a clear red box around the vehicle, marking out a solid red line around the sides of the machine to a standard distance of two metres. This can be extended to match the size of the paving activity at the rear of the machine with a five metre clearance at the back in the case of pavers. This can be both front and back in the case of other big machines. The system also includes blue arrow lights, which make clear to the roller drivers the extent of the exclusion zone at the rear of the paver.

Highway Service experimented with different methods and used LED lights because lasers are potentially harmful to sight.

Highway Service has recently finished installing its safety system on all Colas vehicles operating out of the firm’s Newcastle depot. Service manager Lee Corbett said: “We have been delighted to work closely with Colas on this project and we are really pleased with the results.”

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