Execution certification road restraint systems ready to launch
2021 will be an important year for COPRO, AWV and numerous other awarding authorities in the road construction and infrastructure sector. It is then that we will further roll out the long-awaited implementation certification and the accompanying COPRO.EXE quality mark. One of the chosen fields is the installation and repair of road restraint systems. "The quality of products may be excellent, but if they are not properly installed and/or maintained, their operation and overall safety is compromised. Through execution certification, we hope to avoid this and make contractors accountable," it sounds.
Execution certification is a hot topic in the road building and infrastructure sector. The concept was introduced on the initiative of a number of awarding authorities, including AWV. As an independent inspection and certification body, COPRO was given the task of putting all the ideas, wishes and requirements into practice and perfecting the system. "We ourselves were also in demand because we also manage product certification and realise that perfect execution is also necessary to achieve a good end result. Via execution certification, we can complete the circle," explain Ruben Verbeke and Kim Vandenhoeke from COPRO. "In classic public tenders, the price is the decisive criterion for awarding a job and it is not always easy to guarantee the quality. Many awarding authorities therefore needed a different approach. Thanks to execution certification, they can now be sure that contractors are following certain procedures to maintain the required quality level, which will also be monitored by COPRO. Contractors who meet the proposed requirements receive a certificate in the form of the COPRO.EXE seal of approval, which in a sense also functions as a 'quality label'."
No superfluous luxury
The COPRO.EXE quality mark is already applicable to the removal of tar asphalt, but is currently being expanded to other specialisms, including protective structures for roads. "These are very specific applications (crash barriers, start structures, obstacle protectors, motor boards, etc.) that are subject to the same standards. In this case, a qualitative execution can literally decide about life or death, so an execution certificate for road restraint systems is by no means an unnecessary luxury", Ruben Verbeke and Kim Vandenhoeke emphasise. "Based on the recommendations of an advisory board with representatives from awarding authorities, users, contractors and experts, the requirements to be met by a high-quality execution have been laid down in a Technical Instruction Manual (PTV) and Special Regulations (BRS) have been drawn up with rules to be followed by certificate holders. Contractors will not only have to perform inspections themselves, but will also be subject to periodic site inspections by COPRO experts. The starting point is that protective structures must be able to present the same performance characteristics as in the laboratory environment where they were previously tested. Examples of important points of attention are the correct use of materials, adequate bolt and nut connections, conformity with regard to installation height, etc."
Actively contributing to road safety
Execution certification for road restraint systems has already been mentioned in the Standard Specifications 250 since 2019. Awarding authorities can therefore demand that certain works are carried out by a contractor with an execution certificate, so that they are assured of quality installation and maintenance. "An important step forward," thinks Erik De Bisschop, road lighting and equipment consultant at AWV. "Superfluous holes, planks that are not properly connected, transition constructions that are not properly connected, reinforcements in concrete structures that leave much to be desired, applications that are not geared to the characteristics of the soil...: these are evils that are absolutely to be avoided with a view to road safety. We therefore consider it important to make contractors responsible and to encourage them to deliver quality work. In this respect, we have a very valuable trump card in our hands in the form of the execution certification. The PTVs for steel and precast concrete restraint systems are ready, but we are still waiting for the PTV for in-situ concrete restraint systems. That is why we are giving contractors some more time to apply for the COPRO.EXE label. Only in 2021 will we explicitly impose the possession of an execution certificate in the context of road construction and infrastructure works."
In short: the system of execution certification for road restraint systems has been extensively tested, fully approved and is ready for launch. One of the many contractors hoping to obtain the COPRO.EXE certificate in the near future is WG Aannemingen, which, among other things, focuses on the installation of temporary prefabricated concrete SafetyBlocs at road works. "The introduction of the execution certification is a very positive thing", says manager Wim Gillis. "It is a recognition for contractors who do good work and therefore an ideal means of separating the wheat from the chaff. I myself was also on the preparatory advisory board, and I noticed that the contractors' recommendations were listened to carefully so as to make the project feasible and workable. There was excellent cooperation to find a happy medium for both supervisory and executive parties, with the promotion of execution quality and traffic safety as the common goal. So we did not hesitate and immediately started the procedure for obtaining the COPRO.EXE certificate!"