Exclusive: ORR road safety staffing level 'less than one person'

03/09/2020
Dominic Browne

The highways monitor for the English strategic road network (SRN) does not have a single member of staff whose job is focused solely on road safety, Highways can reveal.

The Office of Rail and Road's (ORR) entire highways team is the full-time equivalent (FTE) of 16.6 people (17 headcount) and its monitoring of Highways England's SRN is funded in the form of a £2.4m grant from the Department for Transport – around 7% of its total budget.

Highways can reveal that responsibility for all areas of ORR's highways monitoring is shared across this team of 17 and no staff member has a sole focus on monitoring safety.

Industry insiders told Highways this means the actual FTE specifically for safety is likely to be less than one person.

This can be contrasted with the ORR’s rail operations, which have a headcount of 117 and an FTE of 112.45, although a direct comparison would be unfair as the ORR has a very different role in railways.

Its rail team has a safety directorate that enforces health and safety law as the ORR is the safety regulator for the industry, whereas the SRN safety responsibility is split between the ORR, the transport secretary and Highways England.

Latest provisional figures show 209 people died on the SRN in 2019. This represents a cut of 16.4% on the previous year’s figure but follows four consecutive rises in fatalities on the network, from 2014 (211 fatalities) to 2018 (250).

Official figures from 2018 show that 1,987 people were killed or seriously injured on the SRN that year.

While the recent and shocking Stonehaven tragedy reminded the rail sector that fatal incidents can still happen on the network, death or serious injuries to rail passengers in the UK is an extremely rare event, even thought to have been consigned to the past.

An ORR spokesperson said: 'Safety is an important aspect of everyone’s job and we are dedicated to monitoring and report Highways England’s safety performance. That said, we are not the safety regulator.

'Our highways and our rail functions are not comparable due to the difference in roles and regulatory powers. There’s no doubt the first road period has been a time of growth and learning for the ORR. We have embraced our new role as Highways England’s monitor and we take pride that we have incentivised Highways England to deliver for road users.’

Executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), David Davies, said he knew of one main person working on road safety monitoring in the ORR, but that they had other responsibilities as well.

‘We would like the ORR to have more capacity in the area of road safety and there is a clear contrast with the rail expertise. There is a mismatch between the claims that safety is the number one priority and what is allocated to ORR and Highways England for this area,’ he said.

Note: This article has been corrected after it originally quoted an incorrect figure for total KSIs in 2018 on the SRN.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Also Inside:

  • Cold Comfort Scotland Review
  • Traffic Signals Backlog Revealed
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Project Commissioning Assistant

£20,043 - £22,129
The city is leading an exciting period of regeneration so it’s an exciting time to be joining our team. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of Bradford MDC

Strategic Waste Manager

£52,739 - £56,593
This is an exciting, rewarding and challenging role to work in the Environmental Commissioning team. Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
Recruiter: Cheshire West & Chester

Climate Change Manager

£41,591 - £43,570
NKDC has been committed to tackling climate change for over a decade. Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Recruiter: North Kesteven District Council

Senior Engineer

£36,853 to £47,784
We have an exciting opportunity for a Senior Engineer position within the Traffic and Engineering section. Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Civil Enforcement Officer (Blyth)

£22,571 - £24,919
You will be responsible for observing and enforcing parking controls in a fair and consistent manner. Blyth, Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Capital Works Engineer

£32,427 to £41,361
We have an exciting opportunity for a Capital Works Engineer position within the Traffic and Engineering section. Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Highways Operative - Barrow x2

£22,571 – £23,454
We are looking to recruit a new Highways Operative to our Highways Service. Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Flood Risk Engineer

£25,419
The Development Management Team is based in the Network Strategy Service area. North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Contracting Assistant Engineer

£27,522 - £31,099 pay award pending
We are passionate about Doncaster - it’s a great place to live, do business and visit. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Doncaster Council

Assistant Director Sustainable Growth

£62,872 - £68,599 - Plus market leading package (see below)
You will be responsible for the Economic Development, Employment & Skills and Strategic Transport, Travel & Infrastructure Matlock, Derbyshire / Hybrid
Recruiter: Derbyshire County Council

Technical Assistant

£24,920 - £29,174
This Highways and Transportation team are looking for a proactive individual to join as a Technical Assistant. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recruiter: Liverpool City Council

Traffic Management Technician - Carlisle

£22,571 – £23,484
This Highways team are looking for a proactive individual to join us as a Traffic Management Technicians, covering the Carlisle area. Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumbria County Council

Street Cleansing Operatives

£21,783 - £22,179
Help keep Greenwich clean and green - kick start your career with a role in Street Services in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Waste Operatives

£22,575 - £22,983
Help keep Greenwich clean and green - kick start your career with a role in Street Services. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Senior Highways Project Manager

Up to £45,700 p.a.
Broxbourne is going through an unprecedented period of place-making change. Cheshunt, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Broxbourne Borough Council

Principal Highways Development Management Officer

£38,533 - £42,614
Do you want a challenging and rewarding career with real opportunities to change the lives of people in Northumberland? Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

HGV Driver (Refuse Vehicle) Hexham

£20,444 - £22,129
You will have overall responsibility for the careful use and maintenance of the vehicle and allocated tools and equipment. Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Traffic Regulation and Administration Officer

£24563 - £25823 per annum + generous pension, flex working + much more
OverviewWe are looking for a Traffic Regulation and Administration Officer to join the team and support us in delivering the parking service across Bu England, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Buckinghamshire Council

Recycling Monitoring Officer x2

£27,009 - £31,155
Turn your environmental passion into practical action. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Assistant Engineer/Engineer x3

£24,920 - £34,373
This is an exciting opportunity for ambitious Assistant Engineers to shape the future of the district’s road network. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of Bradford MDC

Highways Presents

 

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video