NEW RSTA TECHNICAL SERVICES MANAGER SOUGHT
RSTA is seeking a new Technical Services Manager. Based at the Association offices at the Wolverhampton Science Park and reporting directly to the Chief Executive, the role will primarily involve the development and delivery of CPD training courses throughout the UK, working closely with members of client bodies to develop new industry guidance and support the Training Manager by carrying out NVQ assessments on surface dressing operatives and other road surface treatments.
The role requires good communication, presentation and organisational skills. The ideal candidate will already be a qualified assessor for surface dressing, or be prepared to quality as an assessor, and have a solid operational/technical background in the road surface treatments industry. For further job and application details click on the RSTA advertisers link, right hand corner of the E-news Home Page.
£12 BILLION ROADS REPAIR BILL HIDES FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM
The cost to restore the local road network in England and Wales to good overall condition has soared to £12billion according to the latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey. This is an increase of £1.5billion from last year and is believed to be due to the impact of this winter’s record rainfall and flooding. This headline figure, however dramatic, must not overshadow the real roads crisis: the need for a long-term increase of budgets to allow local authorities to carry out planned programmes of road maintenance.
The survey carried out by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) found that despite over two million potholes having been filled and repaired over the last year the extreme rainfall and flooding has left the road network in a worse state than before. Recognising the funding shortfall, the Government used the recent Budget to announce an additional £200million to repair potholes on top of the extra £140million provided to address the damage caused by this winter’s deluge. “Although any additional funding is welcomed, against the background of a £12billlion repair bill £340million is hardly going to make a huge impact,” said Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive. “Indeed the odd funding announcement here and there does little to address the real problem which is the need for a fundamental rethink of funding availability that sees local authorities having budgets that enable long-term, cost-effective road maintenance rather than short-term expensive patch-ups”.
According to the ALARM survey the average cost of filling a pothole in England and Wales is £52. This rises to £70 in London. Yet, it costs on £2m2 to surface dress and maintain a road. “The fundamental problem is that decades of under-funding have forced local authorities to undertake short-term expensive fixes rather than implement programmes of cost-effective long-term maintenance,” explained Robinson.
ROADS UNDERSPEND SHOULD BE USED TO ADDRESS POTHOLE CRISIS
Admittance by the Department of Transport (DfT) of a considerable under spend and reluctance to re-allocate the funds to hard-pressed local authorities is disappointing. The spare funds should be used to help reduce the £12bn pothole backlog.
In its ‘Mid-year report to Parliament: April to September 2013’, DfT states that there will be a possible under spend by the Highways Agency of £330 million against its total budget £3,561m. It reports that much of the under spend is due to increased efficiencies and re-phasing of projects to future years in order to accommodate proposed EU requirements on air quality. Whilst some of the under spend will be used to fund additional projects such as £115m for Transport for London and £47m for Cycle City Ambition schemes and £40m reinvestment into Highways Agency priority schemes, the remainder will be used for ‘ongoing fiscal consolidation’.
For local authorities facing reduced highway budgets and a £12bn pothole crisis using spare funds for fiscal consolidation’ is of little use. The DfT should consider re-allocating the under spend to where it could it make a real difference in addressing our deteriorating road network.
ROADS MAINTENANCE APP LAUNCHED
RSTA has launched a new mobile phone app for its programme of training courses and events.
The app provides instant access to and updates on RSTA event presentations and seminar programmes. For iPhones and iPads, the app can be downloaded via the Apple App store and typing ‘RSTA Events’. For Android phones or tablet go to Google Play and type RSTA Events. Windows 8 and Blackberry phone users need to go to www.rstaapp.com
“The RSTA app is the latest in the range of information dissemination tools used by the Association to further its work with and for the road maintenance sector”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive. “Currently it is used for our events and training programme but we hope to expand it as a news service of RSTA road maintenance initiatives.”
ROAD MAINTENANCE HEALTH AND SAFETY AWARDS ANNOUNCED
The winners of the Road Surface Treatments Association 2014 Health and Safety Awards have been announced.
The potential hazards of working on the road network call for a high level of health and safety awareness and competence. The RSTA Health and Safety Awards aim to capture and promote industry best practice. There are three categories: Workforce Involvement; Behavioural Safety; Innovation. The Awards were judged by Joy Jones from the Health and Safety Executive and presented by Paul Lamb from Nynas Bitumen at the RSTA Annual Industry Dinner. Nynas sponsored this year’s award as in previous years.
First prize for Workforce Involvement was awarded to Asphalt Reinforcement Services for their significant investment in ensuring that all of their workforce is trained and NVQ qualified to level 2 status. In a first for their industry sector their Managing Director has become a fully qualified NVQ assessor. Of particular note were the improvements in trust, confidence and respect of principal contractors and the consequent further involvement of workers – a virtuous circle. Runner-up in this category was DBi Services for their commitment and investment to health and safety which included closing the entire company for an annual 3-day training conference that was well-received as an important and fun event rather than a meaningless chore.
The Behavioural Safety category was won by Bituchem Building Products Ltd for their safety induction for operatives and supervisors that is tailored to their specific surface dressing sector. The induction course stressed the need for workers to take responsibility for their own safety and that of their colleagues and how using behavioural safety techniques can influence the train of thought amongst the team. The result was no Riddor reportable accidents and a high rise in near-miss reporting. Runner-up in this category was Eurovia for its ‘Drive for Life’ initiative which set out a sustained, long-term effort in a key risk area where addressing behaviour is critical. The improvement in driver behaviour across the workforce has resulted in a 45% reduction in driver related incidents over the last three years.
The third category, Innovation, was won by collaboration between Stirling Lloyd/LMS Highways/Connect for their joint initiative to develop a safer way of undertaking high volume crack and joint repairs on the M25 in order to reduce the serious risks attributed to live lane crossings during night-time motorway closures. This involved developing an automated machine application that is up to six times faster than hand application and requires no operatives working on the road. The initiative underlined how a collaborative approach can achieve a great result. The outcome has a positive impact on all associated business functions and provides significant safety benefits. The runner-up was Colas Ltd for its emotional and mental health campaign that addressed an often neglected area worker health and safety. A highly visible communication campaign successfully forwarded the issues and achieved excellent employee feedback.
Commenting on the RSTA Health and Safety Awards, Ms Jones said: “it is noticeable that the quality of entries this year has been commensurate with a maturing awards scheme. All entrants should be congratulated on the significant efforts that they are making within their businesses to improve the standards of health and safety. Importantly, there was a clear theme: that of improving practices and standards rather than a slavish maintenance of bureaucracy – a battleground that all health and safety professionals are very aware.”
AA SURVEY FINDS ROAD CONDITION WORSENS
The overall condition of the UK road network has plummeted according to the AA’s Streetwatch survey. 40% of the 23,911 survey respondents reported that their local roads are in a terrible condition compared to 29% in 2013. Main roads fared no better with 34% now rating them as terrible compared to 24% in 2013.
Edmund King, AA President, said: “The Survey shows that Britain’s roads are ill-prepared for the economic recovery and are unfit for purpose for many road users. It is unacceptable that each winter, whether it is frost or rain, our roads are crumbling and give way too easily. Government emergency handouts like those recently for potholes repairs are welcome but are sticking plaster rather than a cure that will properly repair our roads for the future.”
The poor state of many UK roads has manifested itself in the rise in insurance claims processed by the AA’s car insurance arm. Claims for pothole-related damage to cars have risen five-fold in early 2014 compared with the end of 2013. Insurers are taking an average of 173 claims per week compared with 33 per week last November and December.
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