- The background of this issue relates to a fatal accident in late 2004.
- The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have not concluded their investigation of that accident. Arising therefrom, the HSA entered into correspondence with the Local Authorities on the general subject of safety at roadworks.
The High Court yesterday gave a judgement in a consultative case stated by the District Court in Cork where a number of questions were put to the High Court in connection with an appeal by Cork County Council against an improvement notice served on the County Council by the Health and Safety Authority in January 2007. The Health and Safety Authority has served similar improvement notices on many roads authorities and the present appeal to the District Court is one of a number pending, and the first to come to trial. The case will now resume in the District Court and the matter remains sub judice.
- In addition, the Department of Justice has confirmed that the Garda file is with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the inquest into Ms. Gallagher's death has been adjourned. The Office of the DPP has indicated that it is awaiting the outcome of the HSA investigation before taking any decision regarding the case.
- The Department of Transport, in conjunction with the Local Authority system, has taken a number of important initiatives in recent years to improve safety at roadworks.
Revised Guidance / Circulars
- There are Circulars and Guidelines in place for safety at roadworks. These are update as necessary. For instance, Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual produced by the Department of Transport, provides guidance in relation to speed limits for unfinished road surfaces and the deployment of signage and temporary traffic measures at such locations, both during the active phase of the roadworks (i.e. workers and/or machinery plant working on site) and during any pause before a final road surface is laid. A revised and updated edition of Chapter 8 was published in early 2007.
- The Minister for Transport has under the Road Traffic Act 2004 augmented the powers of local authorities to impose special speed limits by giving County and City Managers power to apply special speed limits as low as 30 km/h at road work sites.
- Technical experts in the NRA and the Department of Transport over the past 2 years have jointly examined standards and guidance material currently in place and have refined and clarified it as necessary. Revised/updated circulars have been circulated to the Local Authorities.
- Arising from the enactment of 2005 Health and Safety at Work Act, a joint Union/Management Health and Safety Steering Committee was established for the Local Authority Sector under the aegis of the Local Government Management Services Board (LGMSB). The sub-committee and the expert team established by the local authority sector for this purpose have completed a comprehensive set of guidelines (which will include monitoring and compliance checking). The Department of Transport and the National Roads Authority has approved and circulated these latest guidelines to Local Authorities. The document is significant in terms of advancing good practice and process in this area. It will be kept under review and can incorporate in future any agreed input which might be brought forward by the Health and Safety Authority.
- Arising from the implementation of these various initiatives, the Department of Transport is satisfied that the practice, among some local authorities, of leaving a considerable period before applying the final surface at road works sites has been very substantially reduced in the past two years. The Department of Transport will continue to urge the Local Authorities to minimise that period, consistent with the guidelines.