Infrastructure

What if the HSE ran the DfT? Part III

With some small background in H&S I have written in the past about how things might be different if the HSE ran the DfT. In a return to this subject we are going to look at WPT16 an interesting little document to help a business deal with the difficult and dangerous subject of Workplace Transport. In 2011/12 20 people were killed in workplace transport accidents, 524 major injuries and a total of 1,972 RIDDOR reportable injuries.

The HSE believes people should be able to work in a safe environment without fear of being killed or maimed and so they offer a lot of useful and practical advice to employers on how to protect people. WPT16 is largely aimed at pedestrians, but its lessons are easily transferred to cycling.

Consider the following excerpts…

Pedestrian movements need to be managed to make sure they don’t conflict with other vehicle and cycle movements.

Common sense, control movements to prevent conflict.

Pedestrians should be separated from vehicles wherever possible.

Segregate vulnerable people from dangerous machinery.

Blocked footpaths and crossings can cause pedestrians to divert into vehicle routes and put themselves at risk of injury. Blockages can be caused by delivery vehicles, parked vehicles or equipment.

An obvious parallel with poorly designed cycle lanes which contain lampposts, telephone junction boxes and parked cars, which put cyclist at risk of collision with the object on the lane or with a vehicle when they are forced to move out of the lane.

Routes can be dangerous if they are poorly maintained. If the surface of a footpath is cracked, damaged or uneven it can become a trip hazard

Again, poorly maintained cycle lanes can create their own problems.

Provide clearly marked and signed pedestrian routes that keep pedestrians safely away from vehicles.

The routes should be obvious and easily understood by someone unfamiliar with the location, consistency in signage, markings and colours help in this regard.

Pedestrian routes, where possible, should represent the paths people would naturally follow. This will encourage pedestrians to stay on designated safe routes and discourage them from making dangerous shortcuts.

Safe routes should be as direct as possible and follow desire lines, if you try and tell people to take a circuitous inconvenient route they will likely ignore it and do what they want anyway.

So there you have it, yet again we see that the HSE are well aware of some of the Dutch principles of transport infrastructure and they consider these methods to be best practice. Indeed, it’s quite likely that if an employer found themselves in court as the result of a workplace transport accident they would have to explain why they didn’t bother to follow these recommendations. If only they had the power to hold the DfT and road planners similarly accountable, it seems almost bizarre that we have two government departments, one enforcing safety through best practice and another one completely ignoring the existence of that best practice because it is inconvenient.

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