Hazards To Pedestrians & Control Measures

Hazards to Pedestrians Movement of People and Vehicles

Pedestrian safety is a huge concern for everyone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities and injuries in the United States. That’s a lot of people who are at risk when they walk down the street! In this blog post, we will discuss some of the hazards that pedestrians face and some of the control measures that can be taken to improve safety.

People are most often involved in accidents as they walk around the workplace or when they come into contact with vehicles in or around the workplace. It is therefore essential to understand the various common accidents happening in every workplace, the causes & the control strategies that can be employed to reduce these types of accidents at the workplace.

Slips, trips & falls are estimated for most events for the walkers. The more severe collisions between pedestrians and vehicles can often be traced back to excessive speed or other unsafe vehicle practices, such as the lack of driver training. An efficient management system can significantly reduce many of the risks associated with these hazards.

Hazards to the Pedestrians

The most common hazards to pedestrians at the workplace are slips, trips & falls on the equivalent level, falls from height, colliding with moving wheels, being hit by walking, falling or flying objects, and striking against fixed or stationary objects. Each of these will be analyzed in turn, including the conditions and the environment in which the appropriate hazard may occur.

Slips, Trips & Falls On The Equivalent Level

These are the most general hazards suffered by pedestrians and account for 30% of all significant accidents every year and 20% of over 3-day injuries communicated to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who has informed that every 25 minutes, someone breaks or fractures a bone due to slipping, tripping or falling at work.

It has been ascertained that the annual value of these accidents to the nation is £750 million and a direct cost to employers of £300 million. The largest reported injuries are stated in the food and associated industries.

Older workers, particularly women, are the most severely injured group from falls resulting in fractures of the hips and femur. Civil compensation claims are enhancing more common and costly to employers, and such applications are now being made by members of the public who have tripped on uneven paving slabs on pavements or in shopping centers.

The HSE has been so concerned about many such accidents that it has identified slips, trips, and falls on the same level as a key risk area. The costs of slips, trips, and falls on the same level are high for the injured employee (lost income and pain), the employer (direct and indirect costs including lost production), and society as a whole regarding health and social security costs.

Slip hazards are caused by:

  • Wet or dusty floors;
  • The spillage of watery or dry substances – oil, water, flour dust, and plastic pellets used in the plastic manufacture loose mats on slippery floors;
  • Wet and icy weather conditions;
  • Unsuitable footwear or floor coverings or sloping floors.

Trip hazards are caused by:

  • Loose floorboards or carpets;
  • Obstructions, low walls, low fixtures on the floor;
  • Cables or trailing leads across walkways or uneven surfaces;
  • This leads to portable electrical hand tools and other electrical appliances (vacuum cleaners and
    overhead projectors);
  • Raised telephone and electrical sockets – also a severe trip hazard (this can be a significant
  • the, when the display screen workstations are re-orientated in an office,);
  • Rugs and mats – especially when worn or placed on a polished surface;
  • Poor housekeeping – obstacles left on walkways, rubbish not removed regularly;
  • Poor lighting levels – particularly near steps or other changes in level;
  • Sloping or uneven floors – particularly where there is inadequate lighting or no handrails;
  • Unsuitable footwear – shoes with a slippery sole or lack of ankle support.

The vast majority of significant accidents involve slips, trips, and falls on the same level resulting in dislocated or fractured bones.

Falls From Work at Height

These are the most common cause of severe injury or death in the construction industry, and the topic is covered in Chapter 16. These accidents are often concerned with falls of higher than about 2 m and often result in fractured bones, severe head injuries, loss of consciousness, and death.

Twenty-five percent of all deaths at work and 19% of all significant accidents are because by falls from height. Falls, staircases and stairways, through delicate surfaces, off landings and stepladders, and from vehicles all come into this category. Injury, sometimes severe, can also result from falls below 2 m, for example, using swivel chairs to access high shelves.

Collisions With Moving Vehicles

These can happen within the workplace premises or on the access roads around the building. It is a particular obstacle where there is no separation between pedestrians and vehicles or where vehicles are speeding.

Poor lighting, blind corners, the lack of warning signs, and barriers at road crossing points also raise the risk of this type of accident. Eighteen percent of deaths at work are because of collisions between pedestrians and moving vehicles, with the highest number happening in the service sector (primarily in retail and warehouse activities).

Being Struck By Moving, Falling, Or Flying Objects

This causes 18% of fatalities at work and is the second-highest cause of death in the construction industry. It also creates 15% of all significant and 14% of over 3-day accidents. Moving objects include moving articles, moving parts of machinery or conveyor belt systems, and flying objects are often made by the disintegration of a moving part or a system’s failure under pressure.

Falling objects are a major difficulty in construction (due to careless working at height) and in warehouse work (due to not caring about stacking pallets on the racking). The head is particularly vulnerable to these types of hazards. Items falling off high shelves and moving loads are significant hazards in many industry sectors.

Striking Against Fixed Or Stationary Objects

This accounts for over 1000 higher accidents every year. Damages are caused to a person either by colliding with a fixed part of the building structure, work in process, a machine member, or a stationary vehicle or falling toward such objects.

The head seems to be the most vulnerable part of the body to this particular hazard, which is regularly caused by the misinterpretation of the height of an obstacle.

A concussion is a mild form of the common result, and a medical check-up is commonly recommended. It is a very extensive injury during the maintenance operations when there is, perhaps, less familiarity with particular space restrictions around a machine.

Efficient solutions to all these hazards need not be expensive, time-consuming, or complicated. Employee information and common sense combined with a good housework regime will solve many of the problems.

Control Strategies For Pedestrian Hazards

Slips, trips, and falls on the same level

These may be prevented or, at least, reduced by several control strategies. These and all the other pedestrian hazards discussed should be included in the workplace risk assessments required under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations by identifying slip or trip hazards, such as poor or uneven floor/pavement surfaces, badly lit stairways, and puddles from leaking roofs. There is also a legal requirement in the Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations for all floors to be suitable, in good condition, and free from obstructions. Traffic routes must be so organized that people can move around the workplace safely. 

The key elements of a health and safety management system are as relevant to these as to any other hazards:

Planning – remove or minimize the risks using appropriate control measures and defined working practices (e.g., covering all trailing leads). 

Organization – involve employees and supervisors in planning by defining responsibility for keeping given areas tidy and free from trip hazards. 

Control – record all cleaning and maintenance work. Ensure that anti-slip covers and cappings are placed on stairs, ladders, catwalks, kitchen floors, and smooth walkways. Use warning signs when floor surfaces have recently been washed. 

Monitoring and review – carry out regular safety audits of cleaning and housekeeping procedures and include trip hazards in safety surveys. Check on accident records to see whether there has been an improvement or if an accident blackspot can be identified. 

Slip and trip accidents are a major problem for large retail stores for customers and employees. The provision of non-slip flooring, a good lighting standard, and the need to block aisles during the re-stocking of merchandise are specific measures that many stores use to reduce such accidents. Other measures include wearing suitable employee footwear, adequate handrails on stairways, and highlighting any floor level changes and procedures to ensure a quick and effective response to any reports of floor damage or spillages. Good housekeeping procedures are essential. The design of the store layout and any associated warehouse can also reduce all types of accidents. Many of these measures are valid for a range of workplaces. 

Falls from work at height

These may be controlled by the use of suitable guardrails and barriers and also by the application of the hierarchy of controls which is: 

  • remove the possibility of falling a distance that could cause personal injury (e.g., by undertaking the work at ground level);
  • protect against the hazard of falling a distance that 
  • could cause personal injury (e.g., by using handrails); 
  • stop the person from falling a distance that could cause personal injury (e.g., by the provision of safety harnesses); 
  • Mitigate the consequences of falling a distance that could cause personal injury (e.g., using airbags). 

The principal means of preventing falls of people or materials include fencing, guardrails, toe boards, working platforms, access boards, and ladder hoops (Figure 9.3). Safety nets and harnesses should only be used when all other possibilities are not practical. Using banisters on open sides of stairways and handrails fitted on adjacent walls will also help prevent people from falling. Holes in floors and pits should always be fenced or adequately covered. When working on fragile surfaces (see Chapter 16 for details). 

Permanent staircases are also a source of accidents included within this category of falling from a height, and the following design and safety features will help to reduce the risk of such accidents: 

  • adequate width of the stairway, depth of the tread, and provision of landings and banisters or handrails and intermediate rails; the treads and risers should always be of uniform size throughout the staircase and designed to meet Building Regulations requirements for the angle of incline (i.e., steepness of staircase); 
  • provision of non-slip surfaces and reflective edging; 
  • adequate lighting; 
  • adequate maintenance;
  • Special or alternative provision for disabled people (e.g., personnel elevator at the side of the staircase).
Falling from a height – tower scaffold.
Falling from a height – tower scaffold.

Great care should be used when people are loading or unloading vehicles; as far as possible, people should avoid climbing onto vehicles or their loads. For example, lorries should be sheeted in designated places using properly designed access equipment. 

Collisions with moving vehicles

These are best prevented by completely separating pedestrians and vehicles, and providing well-marked, protected, and laid-out pedestrian walkways. People should consider crossroads by designated and marked pedestrian crossings. Suitable guardrails and barriers should be erected at entrances and exits from buildings and at ‘ blind ’ corners at the end of racking in warehouses. Particular care must be taken in areas where lorries are loaded or unloaded. Separate doorways must be provided for pedestrians and vehicles. All such doorways should be provided with a vision panel and an indication of the safe clearance height used by vehicles. Finally, the enforcement of a sensible speed limit, coupled, where practicable, with speed governing devices, is another effective control measure. 

Being struck by moving, falling, or flying objects

These may be prevented by guarding or fencing the moving part (as discussed in Chapter 11) or adopting the measures outlined for construction work (Chapter 16). Both construction workers and members of the public need to be protected from the hazards associated with falling objects. Both groups should be covered by covered walkways or suitable netting to catch falling debris where this is a significant hazard. Waste material should be brought to ground level by using chutes or hoists.

Waste should not be thrown from a height, and only minimal quantities of building materials should be stored on working platforms. Appropriate personal protective equipment, such as hard hats or safety glasses, should be worn during construction operations.

Removing high-level storage in offices and providing driver protection on lift truck cabs in warehouses is often possible. Storage racking is particularly vulnerable and should be strong and stable enough for the loads it has to carry. Damage from vehicles in a warehouse can easily weaken the structure and cause collapse. Uprights need protection, particularly at corners. 

The following action can be taken to keep racking serviceable: 

  • Inspect them regularly and encourage workers to report any problems. 
  • Post notices with maximum permissible loads and never exceed the loading. 
  • Use good pallets and safe stacking methods. 
  • Band, box, or wrap articles to prevent items from falling. 
  • Set limits on the height of stacks and regularly inspect to ensure that limits are followed. 
  • Provide instruction and training for staff and special procedures for difficult objects. 

Striking against fixed or stationary objects 

This can only be effectively controlled by:

  • Having good standards of lighting and housekeeping; 
  • Defining walkways and making sure they are used; 
  • The use of awareness measures, such as training and information in the form of signs or distinctive coloring; 
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as head protection, as discussed previously. 

General preventative measures for pedestrian hazards 

Minimizing pedestrian hazards and promoting good work practices requires sensible planning, good housekeeping, and common sense. A few of the required measures are costly or difficult to introduce. Although they mainly apply to slips, trips, and falls on the same level and collisions with moving vehicles, they can be adapted to all types of pedestrian hazards. Typical measures include the following:

  • Develop a safe workplace as early as possible, select suitable floor surfaces and lighting, and carefully plan vehicle and pedestrian routes. Lighting should not dazzle approaching vehicles, nor should pedestrians be obscured by stored products. Lighting is very important when there are changes in levels or stairways. Any physical hazards, such as low beams, vehicular movements, or pedestrian crossings, should be marked. Staircases need particular attention to ensure that they are slip-resistant, and the edges of the stairs are marked to indicate a trip hazard. 
  • Consider pedestrian safety when re-orientating the workplace layout (e.g., the need to reposition lighting and emergency lighting). 
  • Adopt and mark designated walkways. 
  • Apply good housekeeping principles by keeping all areas, particularly walkways, as tidy as possible and ensure that any spillages are quickly removed. 
  • Ensure that all workers are suitably trained in correctly using any safety devices (such as machine guarding or personal protective equipment) or cleaning equipment provided by the employer. 
  • Only use cleaning materials and substances that are effective and compatible with the surfaces being cleaned so that additional slip hazards are not created. 
  •  Ensure that suitable maintenance, cleaning, fault reporting, and repair systems work effectively. Areas that are being cleaned must be fenced and warning signs erected. The trailing electrical leads used with the cleaning equipment must also be taken. Records of cleaning, repairs, and maintenance should be kept.
  • Ensure that all workers wear high visibility clothing and appropriate footwear with the correct type of slip-resistant soles suitable for flooring. 
  • Consider whether significant pedestrian hazards are present in the area when any workplace risk assessments are undertaken. 

It can be seen. Therefore, floors and traffic routes should be of sound construction. If there are frequent, possibly transient, slip hazards, the provision of slip-resistant coating and/or mats should be considered, and warning notices posted. Any damaged areas must be cordoned off until repairs are completed. Risk assessments should review past accidents and near misses to enable relevant controls, such as suitable footwear, to be introduced. Employees can often indicate problem areas, so employee consultation is important. 

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