Managing Pedestrians at Work
A high proportion of vehicle incidents involve people who have no direct control over the vehicle, including pedestrians.
Many people are killed every year in the workplace as a result of being run over or crushed by vehicles. These individuals are referred to as pedestrians and they are the people who travel on foot in the workplace. Pedestrians can include employees, members of the public or visiting workers that pass near vehicles in the workplace. Research carried out by the Health and Safety Authority indicate that 45 percent of pedestrians in the workplace are not aware of the risks associated with workplace transport. In a work environment where vehicles operate, pedestrians can be particularly vulnerable. Thus, proper controls must be put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of pedestrians in the workplace, especially those who are not familiar with the work environment and activities.
Factors Affecting Pedestrian Safety
Before pedestrians can be successfully managed in the workplace, it is essential to determine the factors that affect pedestrian safety. According to the Health and Safety Authority, the four main factors affecting pedestrian safety are:
- Knowledge of workplace: visitors are unlikely to be familiar with the work environment and its activities
- Types of pedestrians: Older individuals and children are more vulnerable to serious injuries from pedestrian-vehicle accidents compared to other age groups
- Vehicle speeds: Higher vehicle speeds increase the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck, as well as the severity of the injury
- Alcohol and drugs: Impaired drivers and pedestrians increase the risk for pedestrian-vehicle accidents
Duty of Employers and Supervisors of a Workplace
An employer and/or supervisor has a duty to:
- Control the flow of pedestrians entering the workplace via the use of access gates, doors or barriers
- Separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic, especially at the entrance of the workplace
- Identify areas where vehicles and pedestrians interact or meet; these are potential danger zones
- Provide separate and defined routes for pedestrians away from vehicles; ensure that these routes are clearly marked
- Install guard rails at corners, entrances and exits to prevent pedestrians from walking onto vehicle pathways
- Ensure that there are well marked and clearly signposted crossing points indicating who has priority
- Ensure that vehicle warning devices and flashing beacons are functioning at all times
- Encourage pedestrians to wear high visibility clothing
- Ensure that the work environment is well lit
Duty of Pedestrians in the Workplace
Pedestrians have a duty to:
- Wear high visibility clothing when in the vicinity of moving vehicles
- Keep a safe distance from moving vehicles
- Never walk behind a reversing vehicle; vehicles have blind spots
- Avoid approaching or walking alongside moving vehicles
- Follow signs, road markings, speed limits and one-way systems
- Avoid entering ‘No Pedestrian’ zones or ‘Vehicles Only’ zones
Reminders for Drivers
Drivers also play an essential role in the effective management of pedestrian safety at the workplace. Drivers must:
- Slow down, stop and sound horn at intersections and corners, as well as any part of the work place where vision is obstructed
- Use a flashing warning light or backup alarm when reversing
- Avoid moving vehicle if there is not a clear view of the intended pathway
- Use a spotter for blind spots
- Brake smoothly
- Signal to pedestrians to stay clear
- Avoid operating vehicle if under the influence of drugs and alcohol
The Top 6 Ways to Effectively Manage Pedestrian Safety
The single most effective way to manage pedestrian safety is keeping pedestrians separate from vehicles. However, this is often not enough. The following six strategies are the most simple and cost-effective ways to manage pedestrian safety at the workplace:
1. Warn Pedestrians
Warn pedestrians about the hazards that exist in the workplace, especially if it is the first time that the pedestrian is entering the work premises. This can be done via short safety orientations, signs and notices.
2. Enable Pedestrians
Educate pedestrians about how to stay safe in the workplace. Clearly describe site rules, procedures and instruction to them, as well as instruct them regarding what they must do to stay safe.
3. Refresh Pedestrians
Pedestrians who are familiar with the work premises and its activities may become complacent. Provide refresher training as much as it is need. Furthermore, this shows the company’s commitment to the safety of pedestrians.
4. Control Pedestrians
Implement a traffic management program in the workplace to segregate pedestrians and vehicles. Ideally, this should be done upon entering the work premises. Prevent pedestrians from entering prohibited areas and provide clearly marked walkways where possible. Additionally, where pedestrians have to cross vehicle routes, provide designated crossing points that have clear visibility for pedestrians and drivers, both in the day and night.
5. Stay with Pedestrians
Do not allow pedestrians to walk freely around the workplace. All visitors should be accompanied at all times, especially when approaching potential danger zones.
6. Equip Pedestrians
Provide pedestrians with the appropriate personal protective equipment, for example, high visibility clothing, especially where pedestrians work in the vicinity of vehicles operating or workplace transport.
Why Manage Pedestrian Safety in the Workplace?
Pedestrian safety and well-being is often overlooked in most workplaces. Therefore it is important that their well-being and safety be given utmost priority. Managing pedestrian safety can be high beneficial to a company in more than one way. First and foremost, pedestrians are safer and the risk of pedestrian-vehicle accident decreases. Secondly, managing pedestrian safety leads to smoother operations. This is due to the fact that segregating pedestrians from vehicles allows for more efficient operations, as it lets drivers and pedestrians focus on their jobs—rather than on each other. Finally, there is a commercial advantage, that is, it will protect the company from claims, adverse publicity and downtime.
Written by Kurina Baksh
Kurina Baksh is a Health, Safety and Environment Professional from Trinidad and Tobago. As a recent graduate in the field, she is trained to analyze and advise on a wide range of issues related to her area of expertise. Currently, she is an independent consultant who develops public outreach and education programmes for an international clientele. She strongly believes that increasing public outreach and education can promote hazard awareness and ultimately save lives.