1.6. Working Practice
Pathwork in Scotland is generally organised through contracting to path teams. The main responsibilities within each contract are outlined below. Different organisations vary the terminology, but the roles are essentially the same.
- Client - for whom the work is being done - often in partnership with landowners and funders, e.g. National Trust for Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Footpath Trust.
- Contractors - contracted by the client to carry out the work.
- Contract manager, supervisor, clerk of works - responsible for over-seeing the contract on behalf of the client - liaises with the contractor to make sure that the contract is undertaken and completed satisfactorily.
- Contractor’s supervisor or team leader - responsible for the work team and ensuring successful completion of the work.
- Pathworkers - responsible for constructing the path to the standard required - usually working as members of a team.
Good working practice involves effective communication between all parties, resulting in a well planned and organised site that will run efficiently and safely, produce quality work and minimise environmental impact.
There are a number of key areas that should be addressed by all involved in work on a path:
- The work should be timed to fit in with the seasons - avoid harsh winter conditions, and busy summer months, on very popular routes.
- The quantity of work to be completed must be achievable and the quality not compromised by rushing to complete works.
- The site should be assessed before work starts, from this specification survey, a plan for carrying out the actual work can be made, for use by both client and contractor.
- Good communications is essential between workers - bad communication is one of the most common reasons for problems arising with work.
- If all parties concerned are properly informed about what is happening on site, how it is organised, who is responsible and who to approach for information, then all should run well.
- Regular meetings should be held particularly between the client’s contract manager, the contractor’s supervisor and pathworkers - and include weekly site safety meetings.
- Landowners, tenants and sometimes neighbours, should be contacted and informed about the work - permissions should be agreed for access to the site.
- The public should be informed about work that is taking place, particularly the local community, interest groups, path users, and any other interested bodies.
- A team that works well together will operate efficiently, safely and with good productivity.
- All teams vary, with individual preferences on how work is done - some prefer working by themselves, bringing in help to move large stone - others prefer working in pairs.
- Upland path work is labour intensive - working as a team can help to ease the pressure and avoid double-handling or wasted journeys. This is particularly relevant to tasks that involve re-using excavated material on the site.
- The relevant safety procedures should be followed at all times and all workers should be made aware of these procedures before working on the site.
- Being aware of colleagues and public safety at all times is essential (see Health and Safety).
- Pathwork should always be carried out by a team of at least three, in case of an accident; maintenance tasks may be carried out by two due to the lighter nature of the tasks.
- The quality of path construction should be of the highest standard and minimise environmental impact.
- Only competent pathworkers should be used to carry out sensitive pathwork.
- The quality of work should not be compromised - poor quality work will not last or withstand the pressures exerted on upland footpaths.
Supervision of the work should be by a competent and experienced manager - regular inspections should be made to ensure that standards are being met.