Line marking in a car park

Is Your Car Park a Safe Environment?

The safety of a car park doesn’t just lie on the owner’s shoulders, but also the onus sits on the shoulders of the contractors managing them as well. We are going to delve into the potential hazards car parks present, explore the impact of safe design and responsible use as well as the importance of regular inspections and monitoring.

Car parks are a common feature of many organisations that serve either as an essential aspect for employees or as part of their business operations. But, these areas can often harbour various safety concerns.

Pedestrians risk being struck by moving vehicles or crushed against objects due to vehicle movement. Also, car parks can be breeding grounds for crime, targeting both parked vehicles and individuals, including employees. 

There is something that can be done to address these potential hazards and this is enforced in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 

Car Parks and Their Hazards

Car park dangers are everywhere and come in various forms, regardless of the design. Several hazards can compromise safety and can either cause small hazards or life-threatening incidents. 

To name a few hazards:

  • Congestion and overcrowding. A Lot of cars parked in a small space can lead to dangerous manoeuvres, blocked pedestrian walkways and limited visibility for drivers. 
  • Poor car park markings and design. Having inadequate markings between parking bays and pedestrian routes coupled with unclear markings can confuse and increase the risk of accidents involving pedestrians. 
  • Parking inconsiderately. Reckless parking can obstruct designated walking areas and therefore restrict the sight lines of both pedestrians and drivers. 
  • Unsafe pedestrian access. The lack of well-maintained pedestrian paths between the car park and surrounding areas can pose a significant safety risk, especially with uneven surfaces and poor lighting around the areas.

In the AA’s 2016 report, they say that supermarkets are named the number one place for vehicles to suffer car park damage. The number one place for a motorist to have their car damaged is at a supermarket car park, with half (48%) saying this was where their car picked up a scratch or a dent. 

Neglecting car park safety measures is evident in the real world. A catastrophic example involved a major supermarket chain facing a £250,000 fine after a faulty horizontal swing barrier malfunctioned. This malfunction meant that the barrier crashed into a customer’s car windshield, which tragically resulted in a driver’s death. 

Safer Car Park Design 

Prioritising safety from the beginning of building a car park is a cornerstone to risk management. This can be achieved by focusing on the established best practices. 

  • Detailed guidance for complex designs
  • Reduce unforeseen risks
  • Fire safety considerations
  • General safety
    • Clear signage and proper lighting
    • Unobstructed visibility 
    • Safe and well-maintained markings
    • Defined parking areas and designated walkways

Physical barriers are often used and recommended to prevent vehicles from straying into dedicated pedestrian zones. Also Encouraging a ‘drive-through’ approach when it comes to parking minimises the need for reversing manoeuvres for safety purposes as well as one-way traffic flow systems. 

Addressing Driver Behaviour

Addressing driver behaviour is also another great way to instil safety in your car parks. We know that managing individual driving habits within car parks can be challenging, implementing clear regulations and ensuring staff awareness is crucial.

Some other regulations are designated speed limits, allocated parking, visitor parking areas, Signage, internal communication channels and clear and concise road markings. 

Danger of Poor Personal Safety

Car parks don’t just present risks to visitors they also present many risks to staff working within them; parking attendants in particular. 

To achieve a high level of safety employers have a legal obligation to make sure risk assessments are carried out, specifically for car park staff. These risk assessments should address various potential dangers like lone working, environmental threats, vehicle collisions and cash handling. 

To maintain a car park you must take a comprehensive approach to a combination of regular inspections and proactive monitoring. But how do you keep on track with maintaining your car park? Well, there are a few organisations that can help you stay on track with your car park maintenance. 

Maintaining Your Car Parks

The Institute of Civil Engineers recommends a life-cycle plan for intricate car park structures. The plan acts as the backbone to efficient inspections, maintenance and repairs which in turn guarantees long-term safety and cost effectiveness.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also provide their recommendations for maintaining a car park. They emphasise the importance of regular physical inspections that should occur at different times of the day and in diverse weather conditions. This ensures a well-rounded assessment of the car park and will help identify any potential hazards that arise from external factors. 

Some key areas to look at when conducting these inspections are

  • Markings and signage
  • Height and width restrictions 
  • Barriers
  • Pedestrian safety
  • Overcrowding

Throughout this blog we have demonstrated the importance of car park safety, highlighting the shared responsibilities between owners and contractors. We delved into how to maintain the safety of your car parks also and we hope you can take something away from this. 

Also, in case you didn’t know we are line marking specialists so if on your car park inspections you notice your line markings aren’t efficient then feel free to get in touch with us. 

Line marking in a car park