Safety of Pedestrians in the Workplace

How can I effectively manage and control the safety of pedestrians in the workplace?

Hazards faced by people walking around the workplace can be divided into two groups:

1. Slips, trips and falls, on the same level, changing levels or from height
Hazards on the same level include wet or greasy floors due to spillages, shiny or slippery surface, poorly positioned, low level stacks or merchandise, trailing cables, uneven or loose surfaces, damaged surfaces, poor housekeeping and adverse weather conditions.
Hazards due to changing levels include using chairs instead of ladders, steps of unequal height, poorly designed or inadequate handrails and ladders slipping.
Falls from height is a major problem requiring specific assessment and control measures

2. Collisions; striking or being struck by a moving or stationery object
Collisions with moving vehicles may result from the pedestrian not expecting vehicles in a workplace environment. Vehicles may move across areas usually reserved for pedestrians and vision may be generally restricted.

Normally secured objects may break free and cause injury. Flying objects ejected from a work process include unguarded broken drill bits or waste materials.
Being hit by falling objects is a common hazard, resulting perhaps from falling tools during maintenance work, or heavy items stored on upper shelves in a storeroom.
Striking against fixed or stationery objects may result from poor or unstable stacking, protruding scaffolding, rods or timbers or items awaiting removal or storage.
Such hazards can be aggravated by impaired visibility due to poor lighting, blind corners, doors, or by machinery noise obscuring the warning sounds of oncoming vehicles.


Control strategies should be based on risk assessment and should include examination of patterns of pedestrian and vehicle movement, work processes, the needs of vulnerable groups such as young people, disabled, and those not usually present such as visitors and contractors.

Secure handrails should be provided for stairs and moderate or steep slopes. There should be handrails on at least one side of stair cases and on both sides if width exceeds one metre.

All walkways should be kept clear and designated pedestrian walkways should be clearly identified by legally compliant safety signs (including a pictogram) and markings (yellow / black diagonal lines) where traffic, work processes or any other hazards pose a risk.

Fixed or temporary barriers should be used as appropriate and if there is a particular risk from vehicles, machinery, trips or falls.

The strength and surface of floors, including suspended walkways should be appropriate to their use and the load being placed on them. They should be kept in good condition and free of anything that may cause trips. Poor housekeeping standards are a major cause of accidents and should be tightly controlled. A slip-resistant coating should be applied to any floor that is likely to become wet.

It may be necessary for pedestrians to wear appropriate personal protective equipment including ear defenders, gloves, goggles, hard hats, protective footwear and high visibility clothing, even if they are not engaged directly in a work task.

In addition to warning signs it may be necessary to provide additional information instruction and training as it should never be assumed that people present in the workplace are automatically aware of the hazards around them.

General pedestrian movement should be aided as appropriate by one way systems through double doors, automatic or soft doors, warning signals / lights and viewing panels.

Special attention should be paid to safe stacking and racking, including providing safe means of reaching materials on higher shelves.

The general environment should be sufficiently illuminated by natural or artificial light, of a comfortable temperature for the type of work and appropriately ventilated, giving consideration to dust, fumes or vapours.

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posted on July 14, 2010
in Safety Topics
about author Britrisk Safety
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