Where people and vehicles work side by side, there is high potential for accidental injury. Accidents involving workplace transport are all too common with around 50 people killed and more than 5000 injured in the UK every year. Pedestrians working in and around moving vehicles are most vulnerable so measures must be taken to segregate.
Under UK law, vehicles must be able to use traffic routes without causing danger to the health or safety of people working nearby; roadways and footpaths should be separate where possible and vehicle routes must be at a safe distance from pedestrian routes and entryways. Vehicle movements should also be carefully managed to reduce risk with measures in place to ensure effective separation.
Common risk factors
Poor visibility and reversing are common risk factors so measures should be taken to improve visibility allowing drivers a clear line of vision. Many serious injuries and almost a quarter of all deaths involving moving vehicles occurring during reversing. Vehicle speed is also a common factor so controlling the speed of vehicles is an important way of reducing hazard.
How can you achieve successful segregation in the workplace?
Visual and physical measures
Safety signage should be clearly visible and placed in relevant locations to make hazards and vehicle routes obvious. Signage must be clean, well maintained and illuminated in areas with poor lighting.
Floor markings help to map traffic routes and are cheap and easy to apply using masking tape or paint. Bollards offer a simple and inexpensive way of clearly marking traffic routes. Fixed barriers at crossing points, corners, entrances/exits, and blind spots provide a physical division and can be complemented by control gates, alerts, and traffic light systems.
Separate access and crossing points
The safest routes for pedestrians are those that are completely segregated from vehicle activity. Crossing points should be in areas where there is full visibility and can include traffic lights, gates, signage, barriers, and floor markings. Audible alarms and automatic gates add an extra level of user awareness.
Traffic control measures
One-way systems are very effective at reducing accidents – they should be clearly marked and adhered to.
Speed limits can also be applied and enforced using speed bumps, stopping points and speed-controlled vehicles.
Proximity warning solutions
Proximity warning solutions raise user awareness through physical, audible, and visual alerts. The system is fitted to fixed hazards and vehicles to create an invisible detection zone in high-risk areas. Pedestrians, operators, or assets are fitted with tags that either vibrate, sound an alarm, flash lighting or a combination of all three to alert them to the threat. This solution is particularly effective in locations where separation is difficult such as areas with reduced visibility, blind spots, crossing points, entrance/exits, and areas where work is performed at height. Proximity warning systems can be used in conjunction with barriers and gateways to enhance safety measures and are a highly effective way of creating segregation in any busy workplace.
A layered approach to segregation
Total separation of people and vehicles is the best way to avoid accident but there are lots of ways to achieve successful segregation when this is not possible. The safest workplaces, combine a number of these measures and use robust risk assessment, safety procedure and training to drive a successful safety culture within an organisation.