The need for Safety Critical Worker Medicals

In 2005 the HTMA reported 5 deaths and 12 major injuries to roadside workers – all the fatalities were caused by workers being struck by oncoming vehicles. Between 2003 and 2008, 11 road workers were killed and 104 were seriously injured on motorways and major routes in England (Source – Highways Agency)

It is important for employers to ensure they meet their duty of care to employees, ensuring that roadside workers are safe in their safety critical roles.

A system of regular medical checks, as recommended by the HSE, will help rule out the chances of ill-health affecting judgement and adding to the risk. This may be an undiagnosed issue such as diabetes, asthma or vertigo caused by an ear infection, or even (and more commonly) uncontrolled high blood pressure. Once completed, your Critical Worker medical will need to be uploaded onto Fastlane.

This is the definition of a ‘Safety Critical Worker’ from the Highways England advisory document ‘Raising The Bar 12’ – revised in 2017:

Who is Safety Critical?
Each person’s fitness for undertaking any task is important but it is essential when the employee is undertaking a high risk activity, is in a high risk environment or conducting an activity where their health could have a critical impact on the safety of the individual or others.

As a result of the working environment the majority of people on Highways England contracts are safety critical, anyone within the scope of either of the following two statements will be required to demonstrate that they have had a safety critical medical before starting work:

A. any person required to work within 5 metres of live traffic without a fixed barrier
and an adequate barrier deflection zone.
B. any person working within temporary traffic management (even if fixed barrier) in a high speed environment (50mph or more, prior to any temporary traffic restrictions being implemented.)

A fully inducted individual who has been declared fit for work can accompany up to two visitors who would otherwise be covered by the road worker definition above.

In the few occasions when personnel are not within the scope of the above definition some roles remains safety critical in all circumstances, these include:

  • Mobile plant operators
  • Asbestos licensed workers
  • Tunnellers or those working in a confined space
  • Tasks carried out at height where collective preventative measures to control risk are not practicable, e.g. scaffolders, steel erectors and persons erecting or dismantling tower cranes.
  • Banksmen, Traffic Marshals and Slinger Signallers