- Posted Tuesday April 30, 2013
FPM’s Steve Morris focuses on external issues managing your Car Park.
Car parks are outside the building (usually) and so come under the spotlight twice a day, and one of these times is when you are leaving! So what are the issues?
Who is responsible for the practice car park?
Car parks, or more precisely cars, are a major workplace hazard and as managers you have an H&S responsibility to ensure that users of your premises, including car parks, can do so on a safe and protected basis. This includes both traffic and pedestrian issues and applies throughout your premises.
The Health and Safety Executive provide some guidelines on the safe management of car parks, and this includes keeping parked vehicles separate to the flow of traffic (designated spaces and areas) and keeping pedestrians safe when using car parking areas (designated walkways and paths). It also busts the urban myth that you do not need to grit these areas in winter as you could be blamed then for pedestrians slipping. As premises managers you are responsible for patients and the public, as well as staff, using your premises safely.
How do you manage risk in a practice car park?
In transport terms, GP practices are fairly safe environments, compared to say a transport depot, however at certain times of the day traffic movement can be significant in a busy car park, and not all drivers bother to drive or park carefully. In addition, some patients are not as sprightly as they once were, or do not have the same sensory perception as others. In the event of an accident, an HSE inspector will need to see what you have done to control and mitigate risk, in the same way as he / she would for an accident inside.
The Practice should have a written policy setting out the way your car park facilities are managed, and have a specific risk assessment (with regular inspection and review processes) documented and available for inspection. You should include in this company cars and vehicles which use the car park on a regular basis, such as ambulances, courier vans, prescription delivery services, taxis etc, as well as provision for suppliers delivering hazardous substances such as gases or liquid nitrogen.
Your policy may also include issues such as speed restrictions, signage, access and egress, barriers, disabled parking, surfacing conditions, pedestrian walkways, crossing routes, steps, traffic lanes, line delimitations, parking, delivery, reversing and turning, HGV access, lighting, emergency access, enforcement, bin storage, and gritting. You can think of others.
An adequate system of risk assessment and management will help patient and user safety and mitigate practice liability in the event of injury.
Subscribers to First Practice Management can access a number of relevant protocols in the Protocols Library including the new Car Park Risk Assessment template.