Keeping Pedestrians Safe on Site
May is National Walking Month and with the days getting longer, lighter, and warmer, what better time to get out there and moving? And not just for pedestrians! This month is about reducing cars and encouraging ‘active travel’ which includes activities like cycling or scooting. Walking can be beneficial to many parts of life including:
- Our Health – Walking is an excellent way to get moving and improve fitness. The full body workout increases circulation, which can boost your mood and leave you feeling energised. Combine this with the endorphins released after exercise and it makes for great stress relief too!
- The Planet – Cars are one of the main contributors to climate change, and for a cleaner future we need alternatives. The air pollution produced affects the health of people and the planet, but the more we walk the less we need roads and car parks, and the more room we will have for cycle lanes and green spaces.
- Our Wallets – With the cost of fuel always rising, there is no time like the present to start spending less by walking more! Even for those using public transport, getting off a stop early can help you cut costs, and with no need for expensive equipment walking is one of the most approachable ways to exercise.
Though we refer to walking, we want to include those who may struggle to do so - whether this be people with disabilities or impaired mobility, parents with prams, even workers carrying heavy objects - and recognise the difference even a small reduction in travel can make. Those who can’t ditch the drive can make a difference by keeping the roads safe for those that already have.
For more info on how and why to get walking, check out Living Streets #Try20 tips.
How to Help
Choosing to walk or cycle shouldn’t put us in danger, especially at a time where we are being encouraged to do so, but it’s not always that easy! The roads are still being used and traffic poses a threat to pedestrians, especially on and around sites. The law says, ‘you must organise a construction site so that vehicles and pedestrians using site routes can move around safely’, but this ethos should extend beyond your boundary. That’s why we’ve looked at areas that pose the biggest threat to pedestrians, and ways to make them safer:
The border of your site needs to have defined physical boundaries, though the type will depend on the nature of your work. Most sites use hoarding signs or banners on fencing, but on short term works alternatives like web fencing or hazard tape may be used instead. Whichever method, it is important to keep the public out. Enhance physical barriers with prohibition and warning signs telling people not to enter and the dangers if they do. We even have a simple safety sign range designed to convey these messages to children.
It is important to consider how traffic – road and foot – will move when planning your site, so you can make routes safer from the start. This could include secure walkways (more below); traffic control measures like one-way streets; and designing routes so heavy vehicles don’t need to reverse, or if they do then tell them to use a trained banksman. Any diversions outside the site should also be planned and people notified with ‘advance warning’ signs (which we custom print). Good traffic management at the initial stage can save you time and accidents down the line.
Entrances and exits can pose a threat to all users if they aren’t careful, as they often have reduced visibility and heavier traffic compared to other areas. This can be countered with site approach signs to help people navigate, or if space allows you could even have separate accessways for drivers and pedestrians. Present site rules by all accessways with entrance signs or display boards - so anyone coming in knows how to stay safe - and use information signs to direct newcomers to the site office.
It is important to establish safe routes for manoeuvring around site as well as the rules for using them. This can be split into two areas:
- Roads: Though it may seem obvious, you should still encourage the standard rules of the road on site. With vehicles this is simple as you can use the same signs and symbols as public roads do (both highway spec and temporary roadworks signage) though additional signs may be needed if your work poses specific hazards, and you need to set suitable speed limits on site too. Any travel restrictions on site should be displayed in key areas, perhaps though traffic management plans or site traffic signs. Pedestrians should also be reminded of road rules but may not have the same knowledge of traffic symbols, so signs with text or illustrations should be used to clarify.
- Paths: Pedestrian walkways need to be easy to find and use. Guide people to them with information signs, and then use our pedestrian route sign pack or flagging tape to mark the path itself. Ideally walkways should be stable, flat, and separate from traffic, but we know this isn’t always possible. At least warn users of dangers like uneven ground or wet floors and provide a barrier between them and the road to define the walkway, like traffic cones or web fencing. It is vital to consider accessibility when planning alternate routes: is it wide enough for wheelchair users to safely pass through? Is there an edge for people who are visually impaired to follow?
Awareness is key in health and safety and here is no different, especially as construction has its own dangers the public may not be aware of! People need to recognise risks to safely navigate them, and that information should be prominently displayed through hazard signs. One example is the ‘thumbs up’ rule implemented on most sites, in which staff and plant operators are taught not to approach each other without visual confirmation – a thumbs up – to help both move safely. You can let everyone know how and why to follow rules (public included) with construction signs, and we even have special ones like our snapshot safety range which uses photos to help explain.
Here for You
The more people get walking the safer it will become, but we can all do our part to improve the roads now. If you do get out there you should feel proud of yourself for trying something new and committing to your health, and we want to give you the knowledge to feel safe and confident too!
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