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Meet the ISG - Rachel Taylor

Each issue we'll introduce you to a new ISG member - keep an eye out for your representative! 

This time it’s Rachel’s turn. Rachel is one of our RCA representatives and brings some fantastic energy, connections, insights and ideas to the ISG.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background in TTM.

I’ve lived in Auckland, Tauranga and now Whangārei working in TTM roles across each of these diverse cities. In the mid-noughties I started working for a lead roading contractor for ten years and have since worked in TTM under different council regimes including Far North and Kaipara. I’ve gained skills and experience through trial and error, been constantly tested by interesting and new challenges, and adapted to change as TTM has evolved. TTM is a relatively new industry, just over 20 years ago roadworks just used to happen. 

There have been a range of different traffic management roles that have lent themselves to my passion for TTM including TMP design, corridor management, traffic management coordination and TTM auditing. I have been abused and sworn at just for wearing a hi-viz so I have huge respect for our TTM whanau out on the ground and have always enjoyed a yarn with the crews back in the office or out in the field.

Currently, I work for Northland Transportation Alliance (NTA) as the Road Corridor Management Lead in Te Tai Tokerau for the Northland local councils of Kaipara, Far North and Whangārei. As the North Island RCA representative on the Industry Steering Group I’m stoked to be supporting others along our national journey toward safer sites through the transition toward a more flexible, risk-based approach to TTM.

Give us a quick helicopter-view of where the industry is on this journey at the moment and what needs to change to get to where we want to be?

The industry is coming to terms with the fact that the compliance-based, prescriptive approach to temporary traffic management was flawed. A reset was inevitable when we look back at our track record. We have lost trust in the public while seriously injuring and causing the death of too many people at roadwork sites.

Once leaders, procurement teams, roading, infrastructure and civils industries catch up with the TTM sector, together we will accelerate. TTM is everyone’s responsibility and every single person who interacts with a site can make a difference by just asking “Why?” – each traffic device must have purpose, to protect people from hazards.  

Starting is the hardest part, but by taking just one step at a time, before you know it, you’re 1,2,5,10 then 20 steps ahead. This change is going to happen and the sooner everyone gets on board, the sooner we get to where we need to be.  

Where do you see the ISG adding the most value over the next 12-18 months?

Selling the dream, getting buy-in and connecting the dots with clear, concise, regular communication and engagement with our TTM whanau and anyone who is undertaking an activity in the road or roadside. And, just as importantly, figuring out how to get leaders, project managers and procurement teams to understand their part in the big picture. Yes, it’s a change for the TTM sector but actually, it’s a bigger change for contractors and clients who need to take control and start the ball rolling at the design and tender stages.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for RCAs in shifting to a more risk-based approach?

The biggest challenge for RCAs is to relinquish control of TTM decisions and put it back on contractors to come up with the solutions – they’re the ones doing the work and its their responsibility to keep their workers safe and our shared responsibility to keep the public safe. As RCAs, we can redirect our focus toward network access, regulatory approvals, public safety and managing network disruption. It’s a huge shift in mindset and it won’t happen overnight but as soon as that switch is flicked it really does start to make a whole lot of sense.  

RCAs still have a very important role to play in traffic management and currently we need to step forward in order to step back by leading contractors to the best safety outcomes while balancing the needs of the work and productivity with the needs of the public. We also need to work more collaboratively with contractors and get the client up to speed on what good TTM looks like and what bad TTM looks like in order to get those responsible to be accountable - the carrot is a reduction in TTM costs and better, more effective TTM.  

The other big challenge for RCAs is that we have to lead up, to educate our CEs, Infrastructure Leaders, PMs and Procurement teams so they come to the realisation that as a client Councils have a role in transitioning contractors on this TTM journey – $money$talks$ and contractors are entrenched in contracts, specifications and conditions. If you’re spending too much on TTM then seek to understand it, challenge contractors and TTM suppliers to make better TTM decisions for roadworker and public safety because it doesn’t start with the TMP it starts with a concept.

If you could clear up one misconception or let people know one thing that you don’t think is widely understood about the shift to a more risk-based approach, what would it be?

That it is a choice to move to a risk-based approach - it really isn’t; and that to assess TTM risk you have to have a qualification in TTM, you really don’t.  You look at the hazards created by your activity and you control the risks.