Hidden dangers in the car park
If your business maintains a car park for the use of staff or customers, it may not be an area that’s top of your mind when it comes to health and safety issues. Maybe it should be, however. There are several potential risks surrounding your car park, including accidents involving both vehicles and pedestrians. Here are some common hazards and dangers in the car park that you may want to try to prevent or eliminate.
Bumps and prangs are common in car parks, and can sometimes be due to poor layout or organisation. To help prevent collisions, you need clear road markings and signage to guide traffic through your car park, preferably one-way traffic routes, as well as clearly marked and well-maintained parking spaces that are large enough to accommodate larger vehicles. You will also want to ensure that you keep delivery areas and loading bays clear, and consider separate areas for vehicles that don’t require much space, such as motorcycles, scooters and small cars.
By definition, car parks are areas with a lot of foot traffic, as drivers and passengers need to cross the car park to get to their vehicles. To avoid accidents, ensure that you have clear, marked routes through the car park for pedestrians. Place disabled parking and any parent and child parking as close to your visitors’ end destination as possible to ensure minimal time spent in the car park for these groups. You will need adequate lighting to increase visibility of signage and trip hazards for pedestrians, and this will also increase the visibility of pedestrians for drivers.
Potholes are a common danger in the car park. Potholes present a risk of damage to vehicles, and are particularly hazardous to cyclists, motorcyclists and users of mobility scooters. They can also be a serious trip hazard for pedestrians. Monitor your car park and ensure that potholes are taken care of as soon as possible. Mark them clearly with cones or hazard tape until they can be dealt with using an instant pothole repair product.
Poor lighting in car parks is a common reason for vehicle accidents and pedestrian injuries, and can also make your parking area vulnerable to crime. Provide adequate lighting at night, in poor visibility conditions and, of course, in any indoor car park. Ensure that signs and potential hazards are clearly illuminated and don’t forget to check regularly that your lighting is working properly.
Well-planned and maintained car parking signage can go a long way to preventing accidents in your parking area. The right signs can indicate traffic direction, speed restrictions, no entry areas, exits and entrances, loading and delivery bays, and various potential hazards. Think through your needs carefully and make sure that all signs are well-placed, relevant and necessary. Too many signs, or irrelevant signs, can just confuse people. It is also vital to check signs regularly as they can become dirty, damaged or broken.
Various environmental risks can impact the safety of your car park throughout the year. Monitor weather conditions and their effect on health and safety in your parking area. In the colder months, you should have trained staff, or a contractor, available to de-ice surfaces, clear snow, and grit both the car park and surrounding walkways. It is also essential to monitor fallen leaves, which can not only cause a slip hazard when wet but also clog drainage systems and cause flooding. Overhanging trees and shrubs can also cause damage to cars and pedestrians. See if these can either be removed or closely monitored to prevent potential dangers in the car park to users.
Theft from car parks is fairly common, which is unsurprising when you consider that thousands of pounds worth of property is sitting in them each day, both in the form of the vehicles themselves and any valuable contents in those vehicles. Car park security should therefore be a high priority, and it is worth considering precautions, including CCTV and barriers. If your car park does not have security systems in place, remember to clearly display a sign warning users of this and reminding drivers to lock cars and take valuables with them.
Making your car park a safer place is simple enough and eliminating common hazards and dangers in the car park is well worth the effort to protect your staff and customers.