Roadworkers have had to suffer a torrent of abuse which has impacted their mental health, a survey has found.
One in four roadworkers surveyed say their mental health has been negatively affected following verbal or physical abuse from drivers.
Around 350 workers from road maintenance companies Bear Connect, Amey and Autolink were asked about their experiences during April and May this year.
Two Bear employees who work out of Bear Scotland’s Perth depot have spoken about the abuse they have faced.
It includes nearly being run over and verbal abuse while carrying out road maintenance.
Roadworker Paul Gray said: “I’ve been shouted at, I’ve been sworn at.
“I’ve not actually had anything physically thrown at me, but I’ve nearly been run over.
“Sometimes they’ll chance a red light or they’ll come down and get angry because they think you’re specifically there to hold them up when you’re only out there trying to do a job.
“You’re not trying to hold anybody up.”
‘We’re just people’
Paul said people tend to get “very angry” when there are traffic lights on the road.
He added: “It can be quite intimating being shouted at by somebody. Sometimes it just ruins your whole day.
“We’re just people as well. We have families. We don’t want to hold anybody up any more than they want to be held up.”
"It can be quite intimidating getting shouted at by somebody – sometimes it just ruins your whole day.”
Abuse aimed at our workforce will NOT be tolerated.
— BEAR Scotland (@BEAR_Scotland) July 12, 2021
Colleague Ronnie Whyte has also suffered similar abuse.
He admits it can affect his mood.
“I’ve never experienced anything physical, but quite a bit of verbal abuse,” he said.
Ronnie said incidents often happen while he is managing temporary traffic lights. Drivers can become impatient, feeling they have been forced to wait too long for the green light.
Just give us some courtesy, that’s all.”
Ronnie Whyte, Bear Scotland roadworker
“Then they will shout and swear at you and call you names, which nobody wants.
“Nobody goes to their work in the morning wanting to be abused. It brings your mood down.
“We’re not there to be abused. They don’t want to be abused at their job and we don’t want to be abused at our job.
“Just give us some courtesy, that’s all.”
What abuse have staff faced?
As well as impacting mental health, the survey found that in the past year:
- Almost one in 10 staff have suffered physical abuse
- One in five have had objects thrown at them
- Nearly two-thirds of roadworkers have been verbally abused by passing motorists
What is being done to curb roadworkers abuse?
Trunk road maintenance companies, with the support of Transport Scotland, claim they will take a zero-tolerance approach to further threats against staff in a bid to stamp out the behaviour.
This may include body cams to record incidents to report to the police.
Scottish transport minister Graeme Dey said abuse of roadworkers is “completely unacceptable”.
“I find it particularly upsetting to hear the impact these incidents have on the mental health of staff, many of whom were carrying out essential maintenance on our trunk road network during the pandemic.
“The Scottish Government fully supports the efforts to raise awareness of these incidents and the call for action to tackle roadworker abuse.”
Iain Murray, Bear Scotland managing director, said verbal abuse has “seeped over” into physical abuse in the past year.
“The only way to address this is with a zero-tolerance approach,” he said.
“We are continuing to invest in vehicle and body cams which will ensure this behaviour is captured and footage can be used in prosecutions against offenders.”