WARNING: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence which some readers may find upsetting. Resources and support links for workers can be found below.
Workers in Birmingham are urging the public to respect them as the number of violent incidents reaches boiling point.
The Integrate Programme Alliance (IPA) has launched a campaign to raise awareness about road worker abuse in the city.
Expect Respect includes stories from workers who have gone through intense physical and verbal abuse from road users when doing repairs.
“The people I work with are not confrontational. They are good people, there to do a job that they have been instructed to do,” said Paul, a Kier Highways site supervisor.
“Yet they have been threatened with machetes, shot at, driven at, and had things thrown at them.”
In the last three years, Birmingham had 465 incidents of road worker abuse.
Across the UK, there were nearly 6,500 incidents of incursions in the UK between 2017 and 2020, according to National Highways statistics.
Road users and pedestrians unable to use the roads due to repairs have used their vehicles, weapons, and dogs to threaten workers.
Mental health and stress are pressing issues in construction, with stress-related sick leave becoming more common among labourers.
IPA is a partnership between Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Highways Ltd (BHL), Kier, Arcadis, Tarmac, Highway Traffic Management (HTM) and WJ Group.
BHL manages and maintains the roads in the city and has invested in CCTV towers, body cameras and warning systems to alert workers of vehicles and people entering the site.
Kier provides regular training on public interactions and reporting incidents to road workers on contract.
“Over 800 people across our IPA teams are working hard to improve the standards of the roads in Birmingham, and they deserve our respect,” said Dave Pugh, the technical director at BHL.
Resources for support
For support and information from the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, click here.
Mates in Mind also provides services for support.
Construction Sport offers advice on coping with mental health difficulties here.
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