Main Roads workers run the risk of public outcry if they don’t avail themselves of distancing strategies.
Main Roads workers run the risk of public outcry if they don’t avail themselves of distancing strategies.

Road workers on display risk public outcry

Two men in high viz rest their steel-toed boots on a sizeable boulder between them, as Department of Transport and Main Roads workers continue to carve out new traffic lanes between Rockhampton and Gracemere.

With their heads bent over the offending lump, which apparently defied the nearby bulldozer, the two come so close they could be taking a selfie.

A hundred metres further towards town, three men huddle around plans perched on the windscreen of a work ute. And on the next corner, two blokes, who were whipper-snippering, standing close together as they have a cigarette.

These are the scenes which would have had drivers along the Gracemere stretch on Wednesday scratching their heads whether the wisdom of keeping one’s distance is getting through.

Perhaps it’s the fresh breeze or warm sunshine which made these men feel less vulnerable than if they were in a shopping centre aisle? Maybe it’s the “they’re-my-mates-I-work-with-every-day” mentality?

As the government empowers police to enforce social distancing, and public debate rages over what truly constitutes an “essential” service, it’s clear that some people can’t or aren’t willing to change their usual habits.

These Main Roads workers are simply going about their work, building the roads we need; indeed, as there are fewer cars on the roads, it’s an ideal time for them to make progress.

But they are as high viz as their vests, so they run the risk of public outcry if they don’t avail themselves of distancing strategies such as walkie-talkies or common sense.

A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson responded after the story went to print yesterday.

“All staff should be following the directions of Queensland Health to ensure the safety and the safety of others, this includes contractors,” the spokeperson said.

“TMR has been in contact with the contractor at this project and reinforced the current COVID19 requirements.

“We have assessed their safety plans and spoken to their staff this morning.

“TMR is following the social distancing guidance provided by Queensland Health, and we have implemented several measures including physically distancing staff, promoting good hygiene habits and providing hand sanitisers for all staff and workers and increased cleaning of shared high-touch surfaces.”