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Health & safety briefing – Separating pedestrians and walkways

30th June 2022

A new set of health & safety briefing notes is currently being prepared by members of the TRA’s H&S committee. The first in the series is a subject which affects all our manufacturer members – Separating Pedestrians and Walkways.

Latest statistics show that being struck by a moving vehicle is the second most common cause of workplace fatality and accounted for 25 deaths in the year 2020-21. These fatalities are totally preventable by having appropriately trained truck and plant operators and by setting out the correct procedure to all staff and visitors using the premises.

Ed Kirk, operations, innovation and sustainability director at Crendon Timber Engineering explains the basic rules to follow:

“According to the HSE, the law states that pedestrians or vehicles must be able to use a traffic route without causing danger to the health or safety of people working near it. Roadways and footpaths should be separate whenever possible and you need to consider protection for people who work near vehicle routes. The law also states that traffic routes must keep vehicle routes far enough away from doors or gates that pedestrians use, or from pedestrian routes that lead on to them, so the safety of pedestrians is not threatened.

“By separation, this doesn’t mean that there must be a physical barrier between pedestrians and vehicles, although this is preferable, but there should be clear delineation.

“Walkways should be clearly marked, it is also worth considering the route. It is easy to fall into the trap of finding a circuitous route that avoids all vehicles but ends up being so long that people ignore it and take dangerous shortcuts.

“As well as marking walkways, vehicle parking and lorry loading areas, clear instructions should be given by way of Risk Assessment Method Statement and/or Toolbox Talks, by doing this there is an understanding by everyone on how the system works, the hazards involved and the reasons why we have separation.

“Consideration should also be given to controlling the movement of visitors to your site, whether to the office, delivery vehicles and drivers or contractors working on site.

“With a relatively small investment in time and money it is possible to put in place a logical and clear system of moving people and vehicles around a site without any compromise to safety.”

To find out more, visit the HSE’s guidance.

Republic of Ireland work-related deaths

Workplace statistics for Ireland show a very similar picture to those reported in the UK.  In the ten-year period 2010-2019, there were 490 work-related deaths. Of these, 217 (44%) involved vehicles.

A detailed report for the Transport and Construction sectors can be found here.  All of Ed’s  points above apply equally to members in Ireland and specific guidance from the Health and Safety Authority relating to vehicles at work can be found here.

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