While most employers have a pretty good grasp on the need to keep their physical buildings safe for employees and customers, the parking lot often gets overlooked. Unfortunately, this can have dire consequences.
How to Keep Your Parking Lot Safe
With a long list of sales, marketing, and operational duties on your to-do list when you walk inside the office, it’s easy to forget or disregard what’s happening outside. But just because most businesses neglect their parking lots doesn’t mean you should.
Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common (and serious) causes of workplace injuries for employees, customers, and visitors alike. And a sizable portion of these incidents take place in and around parking lots. Then there’s the matter of crime. More than 10 percent of property crimes occur in parking lots or garages, making it one of the more dangerous locations on a commercial property.
“It’s important to know the particular risks of your area and take appropriate precautions to address facilities maintenance, seasonal weather hazards, past incidents and non-routine work hours, such as early mornings or late evenings,” risk control safety professional Reese Cann says.
While every commercial property faces a unique set of circumstances – including different weather conditions and varying local crime rates – there are a number of proactive steps that can be taken to ensure maximum safety.
Here are a few that you can apply to your own parking lot.
1. Keep Free of Tripping Hazards
As mentioned, slips, trips, and falls are probably the most common cause of injury in a parking lot. And while these accidents do happen from time to time, you can reduce how frequently they occur (and your liability) by keeping walking surfaces free of tripping hazards. In particular:
- Be sure asphalt and sidewalks are free of holes, rocks, and debris.
- Address large cracks in asphalt or concrete (especially when there’s a change in level).
- Properly maintain landscaping to prevent branches and bushes from protruding over walking surfaces.
- Make sure all joints between curbs and sidewalks are even and/or properly marked.
A weekly inspection of your parking lot and surrounding hard surface areas is a good idea. By staying on top of its condition, you can prevent small issues from becoming major problems.
2. Properly Maintain Asphalt
Asphalt is a fairly durable material. It can take a beating from the sun, holds up well under adverse weather conditions, and provides a safe surface for driving and walking. However, it’s not indestructible. Over time, pavement will experience cracking, small holes become potholes, painted lines fade, and edges can crumble.
Properly maintaining asphalt is key to keeping your parking lot safe. Partner with an asphalt paving and repair expert and call them whenever you notice something during a weekly inspection. They’ll be able to advise you on when and how to act.
3. Install Handrails Where Appropriate
Parking lot safety extends beyond the asphalt and includes sidewalks and stairs that connect parking areas to your building. And part of keeping your parking lot safe means providing adequate guardrails and handrails at all level changes (including ramps, stairs, and along the edge of elevated sidewalks).
4. Maintain Proper Drainage
Slips and falls are often caused by inclement weather. You can reduce the risk of these incidents occurring by ensuring proper drainage. This eliminates the risk of standing water or ice, which leads to problems. (Proper placement of storm drains is a must.)
5. Use Clear Signage
Never assume that people are aware of what’s happening in your parking lot. Clear signage is a must in order to keep people safe. This includes clearly marked entrances and exits, properly labeled pedestrian crosswalks, bright lines between parking spots, warning signs, markers for level changes and steps, etc. If your business operates after daylight, lighting is also an important element.
6. Hire Security
Depending on the size of your parking lot, the location of your building (in relation to local crime rates), and other factors, you may also need to hire security. A part-time security worker maintains a presence in your parking lot and deters criminals from making it a target. It’s not a must, but it certainly enhances the overall safety of your business.
Putting it All Together
Parking lots will always pose certain risk factors. But the more conscientious you are with the smaller details of your parking lot, the safer it will become for your employees, customers, and visitors.
Take the time to deal with these issues now, and you won’t have to worry about them in the future.