Essential precautions for working roadside

Precautions required

  • all risks, particularly from other road users, have been properly assessed and safe systems for working at the roadside prepared
  • vehicles and equipment of an appropriate standard are provided and maintained
  • employees have been adequately trained to work safely at the roadside and to advise the occupants of casualty vehicles on the precautions they should be taking.
  • appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) eg high visibility/weatherproof clothing; footwear; gloves, is provided and used


There are a number of trade associations within the breakdown and recovery industry which may be able to advise on the availability of suitable training courses, including -

Available guidance

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has published a number of priced documents containing guidelines on both the standard of training and equipment specifications.

For example:

  • BS7121-12:1999 Safe use of cranes Part 12: Recovery vehicles and equipment-Code of Practice. Contains guidelines and recommendations for ensuring the health and safety of people at work and members of the public during recovery operations.
  • BS7901:2002 Specification for recovery vehicles and vehicle recovery equipment. Specifies performance requirements for recovery equipment for moving casualty vehicles during breakdown or recovery activities.
  • PAS43:2012 Safe working of vehicle breakdown and recovery operators: Management system specification.

The Institute of Vehicle Recovery (IVR) has published a series of videos to help train roadside technicians, including "Life on the edge 6. Roadside Technicians: It's your call". This deals specifically with the safety of people involved in roadside recovery operations. (Available from the Tel: 01895 436426 Email:[email protected].)

The SURVIVE Group is a partnership between the Highways Agency, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the breakdown/recovery industry and other service providers. The SURVIVE Group has been established to improve the safety of those who work on the road network and the travelling public and is also dedicated to the promotion of driving safety. SURVIVE are the originating organisation for PAS 43 referred to above. It also produces other guidance including its 'Best Practice' guidelines for dealing with breakdowns/removals on motorways and high speed dual carriageways.

HSE contributed to the cross industry Road Workers' Safety Forum (ROWSAF), in the production of  'Guidance for works on the hard shoulder and roadside verges on high speed dual carriageways' found on the Highways Agency's website and covers a range of activities including maintenance works but also the repair or recovery of broken down vehicles. The free publication relates primarily to high speed roads but can equally be transferred to lower speed roads where similar principles can be applied. This gives some specific guidance for recovery operators and also refers back to the SURVIVE Best practice Guidelines.

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Updated 2023-04-03