New highways code of practice

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The new highway code of practice – Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure, was published on 28th October 2016. It replaces Well-maintained highways, Well-lit highways and Management of highway structures with a single code, designed to promote an integrated approach to asset management that is based on local needs, priorities and affordability.

The underlying principle of the new code is that authorities should adopt a risk-based approach and a risk management regime, such as that set out within ISO31000, for all aspects of highway maintenance policy. In support of this new approach the code does not provide any prescriptive or minimum standards, for example on the frequency of safety inspections or defect intervention levels. Instead the code makes very clear that it is for each authority to establish and implement levels of service appropriate to their own circumstances and prioritised based upon their own assessment of the risk.

For some authorities the move away from prescriptive standards to a new risk-based approach will represent a significant shift in the way they manage highway assets. A 2 year period has been set to allow for full implementation of the new guidance and it is important that authorities use this time to review current practices against the new code and develop in-house competencies to support the development and implementation of the required risk-based approach.

The importance of facing up to this challenge should not be underestimated given the potential implications for the outcome of highway liability claims should authorities be judged to be non-compliant with the new code.

RMP risk control is well-placed to assist authorities make this important transition. Support can be provided in the following ways –

  • Reviewing current practice against the risk management requirements of the new code and providing a gap analysis and action plan to achieve compliance
  • Raising awareness and understanding of the key risk management requirements of the new code and the potential implications for highway liability claims
  • Review of documentation and records to ensure they are sufficiently robust to underpin decisions on risk and able to provide a defence of claims for alleged failure to maintain
  • Developing in-house competencies in the application of the principles of risk management (ISO 31000) to all aspects of highways asset management
  • Assisting authorities to collaborate with neighbours in order to align their approach to highways maintenance. Failure to do so could threaten defensibility where two similar and geographically close authorities have implemented widely different policies and procedures
  • Working with authorities to ensure outsourced highway activities are aligned with the highway authority’s risk-based approach.

To discuss further the implications of the new code contact RMP risk control or your account director.


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