Safety & HCM Post

Watch Your Step

If you have the impression that a parking lot is a safe place, think again!

A supervisor walking from his vehicle across a parking lot to the office slips on some ice. He falls and suffers a back injury which results in a permanent disability.

A machine operator is driving away from the plant after his shift, pulling out of the parking lot onto a highway. He doesn’t see an oncoming truck and is killed in the collision.

A woman who works on the parts assembly line leaves work after an evening shift. Approaching her car in a deserted parking area, she is brutally assaulted by an unknown assailant.

Parking lots can be hazardous places where serious injury or death can occur. Part of working safely involves traveling to and from the job without mishap, and that includes parking lot safety.

Although parking lot traffic is usually slow-moving, it presents a number of hazards. For pedestrians, it is important to remain alert and never assume that a driver sees you. Never step in front of or behind a parked vehicle unless you are sure it isn’t going to move. If it’s occupied, make eye contact with the driver before moving into its path. Also avoid stepping in front of vehicles which will have to stop suddenly to avoid you. In parking lots and other areas such as loading docks where there may be moving vehicles, always be alert for audible signals such as back-up alarms.

Drivers can help avoid accidents by driving defensively and giving pedestrians the right-of-way. Observe traffic control signs such as one-way lanes and posted speed limits as well. When you park, try to choose a spot where you can exit by driving forward rather than backing up. Circle your vehicle before you get in, checking for any obstructions which you could strike as you start to move. If you must back out, check all mirrors and look behind you, too.

When entering and exiting a parking lot, try to choose routes where you can avoid crossing one or more lanes of on-coming traffic.

Slips, trips and falls are also a hazard in parking lots, because of uneven walking surfaces, as well as ice and water. Wear appropriate footwear such as low-heeled, non-slip shoes or boots. Watch your step to avoid obstacles such as curbs or broken pavement. Watch for slippery frost on sloped surfaces such as the ramps leading out of multi-story parking garages.

Avoid falls when entering or exiting vehicles as well. Before you step out of a vehicle in winter, check to see that the pavement surface is free of ice. When entering and exiting high vehicle cabs, hold on with both hands.

Your personal security is always a concern around parking areas. Be careful and alert to avoid possible assault. Avoid dark areas – always think ahead when you park your vehicle at the beginning of your shift. Use a buddy system to get to and from your vehicle in unsecured areas. As you approach your vehicle, have your keys ready so you can enter it quickly. Observe your vehicle from a distance to make sure there is no one hiding under it or near it, and have a look in the back seat before you get in.

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