Risk Assessing A Car Park

Risk Assessing A Car Park

Posted: 27th January 2017

Posted by: The National Testing Team

In 2004, the “Park Mark: Safer Parking Scheme” was introduced within the UK as guidance for car park owners, to demonstrate how to construct and maintain an appropriate car park environment. Whether for employee or public use, operators of all car parks, including multi-storey and on street parking, have a responsibility to control risk factors to minimise any potential hazards that could occur. Failure to do so could lead to serious accidents or even fatalities for users as well as prosecutions for the operator of the car park. Not only should there be a safe and effective layout but inspections should be carried out on a regular basis during all weather conditions to ensure optimum safety in all areas.

We take a look at some of the most important factors when risk assessing a public or private car park in order to make it a safe environment for motorists and pedestrians:

Layout

Car parks are bound to be high traffic areas so it is vital to design a layout that is simple to follow and will minimise any hazardous risks. Initially, make sure the car park is clearly sign posted, well lit and easy to find to avoid any potential confusion. Signs should highlight any rules in place that the users need to follow in order to keep the area safe. Careless parking, over-parking and congestion, which can result in drivers using dangerous manoeuvers, can be avoided by providing clear sign posted regulations.

Options to consider for the layout of the car park could include; only allowing a maximum number of vehicles into the area, designating an employee car park and allocating parking spaces in low risk areas to specific groups of people such as disabled badge holders. It is also beneficial to have clear, segregated routes, combining “drive through” parking and one way systems to reduce the need for users to reverse and also help reduce congestion.

Not only should the layout of a car park lessen accidents for drivers, but for pedestrians too. Bollards and barriers are a simple way to prohibit vehicles accessing or blocking pedestrian routes and walk ways. To further the safety for pedestrians, implementing a low speed limit is recommended.

Parking bay sizes

Parking bays should be clearly segregated to avert confusion and collisions. In the UK, the standard size of a car is approximately 4.75 metres by 1.8 metres. To accommodate for slightly larger cars and posses a safe distance from other parked cars, you should aim for at least 4.8 metres by 2.5 metres, where there is a manoeuvring width of at least 6.5 metres.

Car park road markings

Parking bays should be clearly marked to indicate to drivers what areas are available for parking, including which of those are for disabled users only. Similarly, pedestrian routes should be designed to stand out in order to highlight safe areas for people to walk, using contrasting colours to differentiate between vehicle zones and pedestrian zones is recommended. White and yellow are the most common colours used in car parks as they are bright to the eye, even in dark lighting.

Slip and skid resistance

Car parks should always be made slip and skid resistant for the safety of both vehicles, passengers and pedestrians. When surfaces become worn, and are at risk of being slippery, post treatments can be used to get these surfaces back up to the recommended slip and skid resistance levels.

The most common method used to measure the effectiveness of your car park slip and skid resistance is the Pendulum Test, which is the only evidence accepted in court during a UK civil slip related injury claim. Two different rubbers can be used for this, one to represent the sole of a shoe and one a car tyre, to determine how much friction there is in the material. A slip testing professional can then compare your result to recommended slip ratings, ensuring your car park is at the recommended level.

To measure skid resistance between a surface and a vehicle tyre, the texture depth measurement can be used, which tells you the roughness of the surface. Not only does the roughness of a surface aid braking in vehicles, but it can communicate how well water is dispersed between the surface and a tyre. This is extremely important in outdoor car parks where poor weather conditions can contribute to wet, slippery surfaces. It is also advised to make sure the car park has numerous water drains to assist in minimising a build up of water due to rainfall.

As this article highlights, when designing, constructing and operating a car park, duty of care to users is always the most essential forethought. Following these simple recommendations will aid in keeping your car park safe, minimising any risks or hazards that could lead to an accident, which will ultimately support you in any lawsuits that may occur. If you have concerns over the safety and slip or skid resistance of your car parks, including pedestrian zones, then call our team for a free quote at National Testing today.

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