Highway safety inspection policy

Last updated: 15 September 2022

Defect categorisation

During safety inspections, all observed defects that provide a risk to users are recorded and the level of response determined on the basis of risk assessment.

This policy defines defects in three categories:

  • emergency ‐ those that represent an immediate or imminent hazard or risk short term structural deterioration and require prompt attention
  • category 1 ‐ those that do not represent an immediate or imminent hazard but may have safety implications and are likely to require priority attention, or those that adversely impact the integrity of the highway asset
  • category 2 ‐ all other defects above the minimum recording level that are sub‐divided through an assessment of risk to determine an appropriate response.

Emergency defects

Defects will be corrected or made safe at the time of the inspection, if reasonably practicable. In this context, making safe may constitute displaying warning notices, coning‐off or fencing‐off to protect the public from the defect or other suitable action. If the inspection team cannot make safe the defect at the time of inspection, then they will instigate the relevant emergency call procedures to ensure appropriate resources are mobilised to make the defect safe. These procedures aim to ensure initial attendance to the defect within 2 hours of the defect being identified.

Category 1 defects

Defects may also be corrected or made safe at the time of the inspection, if reasonably practicable. If it is not possible to correct or make safe the defect at the time of inspection, then an appropriate repair will be carried out within 2 working days of the identification of the defect.

Category 2 defects

Defects are categorised according to priority: High (Cat 2H), Medium (Cat 2M) and Low (Cat 2L), with response times defined within Table 4.

Inspectors are trained in the appropriate classification of defects and training includes examples of defects which may be encountered on the network and potential categorisation. However, on‐site assessment will always need to take account of particular circumstances.

The inspector will also take into account the likelihood of further deterioration before the next scheduled inspection, and where this is a considered a high probability, a higher defect classification may be determined. Response times are based on recommendations contained within well‐managed highway infrastructure and out general and historic experience that they are at least sufficient for their respective defect category.

Table 4 – Response requirements for defects.
Category Response time Recommendation

Cat 2L

Not applicable

No temporary repair necessary. Record defects to contribute to developing future programmes of maintenance works.

Cat 2M

28 working days

No temporary repair necessary. Attend and target permanent repair within 28 working days or schedule for future programme of maintenance works.

Cat 2H

5 working days

Attend within 5 working days and permanently repair or make safe. If repair is temporary then the inspector may raise additional defect repair to be completed within 28 working days or longer as determined by risk assessment. If attendance within the timescale is not possible, then a temporary action will be undertaken such as coning off.

Cat 1

2 working days

Attend within 2 working days and permanently repair or make safe. If repair is temporary then the inspector may raise additional defect repair to be completed within 28 working days or longer as determined by risk assessment. If attendance within the timescale is not possible, then a temporary action will be undertaken such as coning off

Emergency

2 hours

Attend within 2 hours and permanently repair or make safe. If repair is temporary then the inspector may raise additional defect repair to be completed within 28 working days or longer as determined by risk assessment

Note: It is expected that defects are repaired permanently wherever possible. However, where defects are made safe through temporary repairs, then a system of monitoring is in place to ensure the make safe repair is maintained until such time as a full repair is completed. In most cases temporary repairs will be repaired permanently. On occasion the risk assessment may determine that the temporary repair is likely to remain until the next inspection takes place or there may be other reasons not to make a permanent repair (an imminent resurfacing scheme for example). The inspector should make this assessment and record this.