Solving site safety risks with innovative security and traffic management systems
Sometimes a site safety issue seems so complex that it appears unsolvable – but our MD Richard Samwell has a reputation for finding solutions and developing new traffic management and security systems that will minimise risks on even the most complicated site.
We were called in to help a global chemical company at their site in Preston, where the complex traffic flow of HGVs, cars and pedestrians was proving a nightmare to manage. They felt that there just wasn’t a way to handle the flow of incoming and outgoing vehicles, allow safe on-foot passage around the site, and also cater for delivery drivers from overseas who often don’t speak any English.
Impossible? No – we don’t believe in impossible when it comes to site safety and security, so Richard set out to resolve the numerous problems present and provide a solution that would see safe passage for all traffic and individuals. Here’s how we did it…
Onsite traffic management – the problem
Sites that handle deliveries often come with traffic management problems, but combine those fast-moving vehicles with pedestrians and no personnel to control the traffic (such as a banksman or traffic marshal), and you have potential accidents on your hands. The problems on this particular client’s site had gradually increased as the business, and subsequently the site itself, grew to become more complex in its layout and design over the 50 or so years since it was first developed.
Firstly, the staff car park lies just to the side of the single lane entry that caters for delivery lorry and executive access, meaning that employees were walking across the path of traffic in order to enter the offices and warehouse. Not only were these vehicles coming in and out, they were also having to reverse and manoeuvre internally on the site, down a slope, in order to back up into the loading bays – two situated straight down from the entrance/exit, and another two located down a right turn, straight after the main site entrance. With nobody to direct the lorries, both drivers and staff had to have their eyes everywhere, trying to avoid potentially fatal collisions.
Also down the right hand turning, another sharp right lead to the executive car park – making car access an issue when a lorry was already moving around the site. This also creates another flow of pedestrian traffic moving across the right-hand road to enter the company offices and other buildings – plus other staff using the executive car park to cut across to save time when visiting other parts of the site.
So summarised, the key problems were:
- Executives driving into an area where articulated lorries are manoeuvring.
- Entrance/exit problems with just a single lane – who goes first? The area can easily get congested with vehicles unable to safely or efficiently move.
- Other vehicles trying to enter the site when the site is already too busy and heavily trafficked.
- Pedestrians crossing roads with lots of vehicle activity.
- Delivery drivers not being able to effectively communicate with reception or site staff in order to move around the site efficiently and safely.
Added to this, there’s also a tank farm on site which houses hazardous chemicals, which creates a ‘safe zone’ where no sources of ignition can be present – including vehicles.
So, with on-foot and vehicular traffic coming and going from all angles, site safety was becoming a serious concern. Of course, with an open site, you also have people taking wrong turnings or entering the site and parking up by the lorry bays – with no way to prevent or manage the issue.
Multi-layered solutions – traffic barriers, hands-free intercom and pedestrian crossing
The client felt that the best that could be done to manage the traffic on the site was to install a traffic barrier at the entrance/exit point – but of course that only controls in/out activity, and certainly wouldn’t solve the issues within the site itself.
Richard visited the site, reviewed the various issues and set about designing a bespoke site security and traffic management system that would minimise the health and safety risks as much as possible.
Here’s what we did…
Traffic barrier installation, ANPR and sensors
Firstly, in order to control traffic at the point of entry/exit, we did indeed install a traffic barrier, but we also included sensor posts in the lane which are set to measure the height of the vehicle approaching, plus an ANPR system. This means that providing other parameters are met (more later!) anyone with authorisation to enter the site unchecked – such as staff or executives using their dedicated car park – will have the barrier automatically raised for them. We also installed a second barrier at the entrance/exit of the executive car park.
If a delivery lorry approaches, the sensor detects this and opens up the next protocol…
Unique hands-free, long range intercom
When a delivery vehicle is detected at the entrance, the system automatically switches on a hands-free intercom – this type is required because it’s a single lane entry, so a manually operated one would only work for traffic in one direction or another, as there’s no central area to install one within reach from the vehicle. Hands-free IP intercoms are anything but standard, but this particular situation demanded a more innovative solution. This hands-free version is enabled by the inclusion of a long-range microphone on a post at the gate, and a horn speaker to ensure the driver can hear communications over the engine and other background noise.
There’s also a CCTV camera situated at this entrance point, so when a lorry is detected and the intercom system switches on, staff in the warehouse or delivery department can see who’s there and guide them to the right delivery bay or the tank farm. If a car is detected, the intercom connects with reception staff, so they can approve or deny access where appropriate.
But what about the language barrier?
With many international drivers visiting the site, an intercom wasn’t quite enough to ensure maximum safety, so Richard created a clear map of the site on a large board at the main traffic barrier.
The board has a light on each area of the site, showing the 4 individual delivery bays, the tank farm and articulated lorry waiting area. When the delivery staff check the vehicle that’s arrived, they switch on the light on the board that shows the area where they want the driver to go – so there’s no issue with trying to verbally communicate directions. To improve this non-verbal direction-giving even further, each bay or area also has a correlating rotating beacon which starts flashing at the same time as the board light is lit up, offering both a map and a physical reference so the driver can easily see where they need to drive to. If the entry is clear, the traffic barrier will raise and the driver can head down to the designated spot.
Car movement within the site
The traffic barrier at the entrance of the executive car park is automatically locked down if another vehicle or lorry is detected at the main entry – and will only be raised when the single lane entry/exit is clear – preventing congestion and potential incidents between moving vehicles. This is facilitated with the addition of floor sensors at the entry point.
Site safety for pedestrians
Finally, there was the issue on pedestrian traffic management – with vehicles moving around the site from several directions, there was a high risk of injury to staff trying to get from one area to the other, so this needed addressing.
Richard’s solution was to install a pedestrian crossing midway between the two security barriers, and integrate its operation with the sensors responsible for detecting vehicles coming in the main entrance, and leaving the executive car park.
When a pedestrian reaches the crossing, they press the button which will then link to the rest of the system – if either barrier is in operation or a vehicle is detected in either area, the light will show red to indicate it’s not safe to cross. If the coast is clear and no vehicle movement is detected, the light turns to green and a loudspeaker announces that it’s safe to proceed. If the crossing is allowing pedestrians to cross, this overrides vehicle access by locking the barriers down – with priority given to pedestrians at all times.
Improving site safety and traffic management
This complex case study demonstrates that even with multiple access and vehicular movement points, and just a single lane main entryway, it’s entirely possible to improve site safety – you just need a little creative thinking!
This system is a vast improvement on other more traditional solutions, such as using hi-vis jackets or a banksman to direct site traffic – after all, they can’t possibly see every potential hazard on a busy site of this size.
Site traffic management can be very complex, but by installing an integrated security system, risk can be mitigated and communications between visitors and staff can be improved greatly. While this hasn’t removed potential risks 100% (someone could ignore the crossing lights, or still take a short-cut for example), they’ve been minimised to such a degree that everyone can go about their business safely and efficiently.
If you’re concerned about site safety or traffic management at your premises and have been unable to find a system that delivers the required results, please call us on 0113 281 2106 – we’ll combine a hands-free IP intercom, traffic barriers, CCTV, ANPR or whatever it takes into a bespoke solution to give you real peace of mind.