Impact and pedestrian barriers – where, why and how?

The safety of internal traffic should be of great concern to every company. Why? Because traffic and transport accidents are still top ranking in statistics. Often industrial trucks crash into shelves, walls, and equipment such as machinery, causing costly damage. Even worse, accidents with pedestrians. Start enhancing workplace safety by assessing the traffic situation in your premises. Evaluate the risks and take suitable technical measures. Let this article support you along the way! 

 

How to prevent accidents of internal traffic

Many of these accidents could likely have been prevented if the safety of pedestrians near traffic routes had been ensured by taking technical and organizational precautions. As standard, impact and pedestrian barriers are recommended. Impact barriers prevent vehicles from crashing into equipment. Pedestrian barriers clearly separate walkways and workplaces from tracks for industrial trucks. 

Pedestrian barriers should be used where people and trucks share the same passages and a clear separation by marking on the floor is not sufficient, because of a lack of space (less than 1m space between walking lines and traffic route). High traffic areas and crossings are particularly risky. This is often aggravated by impaired vision. Shelves, machinery, and other equipment do not allow pedestrians to see oncoming trucks in time.  

Additionally, signed-out walkways may not always match the desire lines of pedestrians. Together with the ever-present human thoughtlessness, all this results in scenarios that increase the likeliness of bad accidents. 

What can be done, to increase safety? The simplest way may be to mark the walkways, put up warning signs and instruct staff. However, European, national, and local regulations may require doing more. 

 

What does the regulations and standards say about impact protection

Regulations like the European directive on workplace safety require that technical measures take priority over mere information and instruction (directive 89/391/EEC). Therefore, in areas with particularly high-risk pedestrian barriers in the form of highlight-coloured guard rails should be installed. At crossings, install self-closing gates and mark the vehicle track as a zebra crossing. 

Separation of a traffic area and a pedestrian walkway - Legend: 1 pedestrian barrier, 2 self-closing gate

Some accident prevention rules additionally recommend coloured walkways, raised curbs, and pedestrian barriers. For instance the German ASR 1.8 on company internal traffic routes requires that pedestrians be protected from vehicles by suitable means. In section 4.3 it recommends the use of pedestrian barriers. 

Pedestrian barriers are needed particularly in front of doors that open toward a traffic lane. Thus, a person opening the door cannot walk accidentally into a passing vehicle. Barriers should also be placed on either side of wall openings for passage of vehicles and near automatic gates. Whenever possible provide a separate door next to the opening or vehicle gate for people to pass from one hall area to the other. And never plan a crossing in the direct walking line toward a door. 

Pedestrian barrier inhibiting people from walking in front of traffic gate – Legend: 1 automatic vehicle gate, 2 door next to gate, 3 pedestrian barrier, 4 self-closing gate.

All these measures protect persons from being hit by vehicles. But equipment and work areas may also have to be protected. An industrial truck crashing into a storage rack may cause loads to fall off or may even damage the rack seriously enough to make it collapse. Thus shelves should be fitted with impact protections. This is required by industrial shelving standards like EN 15512. Section 6.3.4.4.1 reads: “Impact damage caused by fork-lift trucks or other moving equipment against rack-uprights shall be avoided by appropriate operator training and safety measures.” 

Combination of impact and pedestrian barrier separating workplaces and a traffic area – Legend: 1 pedestrian/impact barrier, 2 self-closing gate.
Impact barrier protecting storage racks from impact by vehicles – Legend: 1 double impact barrier

Sensitive and costly equipment placed near traffic routes also should be protected from impact by vehicles. Sometimes industrial trucks also need to pass slopes or ramps. Where the bottom end of a slope crosses a pedestrian area or traffic route, imapct barriers can force the driver to slow down. The barrier will also stop a defective truck from rolling off and crushing into people, passing vehicles, equipment, and walls.

 

Impact barrier around costly production facility – Legend: 1 high impact barrier


Axelent’s solution of impact protection is X-Protect

Our brand-new impact and pedestrian barrier system X-Protect features a very strong high-visibility post. From it impact barriers and handrails can lead into four directions. A self-closing gate with adjustable width can be installed at crossings. The installation is super easy, and the stability has been tested to stringent requirements. 

Start enhancing workplace safety by assessing the traffic situation in your premises. Evaluate the risks and take suitable technical measures. We are ready to support!

 

Regulations and standards you want to know of when investment of impact protection 

EU Directive 89/654/EC concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the workplace (originally published in 1989 and last updated by EU Regulation EU/19/1243 in 2019). 

Require

  • to protect glass walls or make them of safety material (ANNEX I 9.3) 
  • to provide separate doors for pedestrians near gates for vehicle traffic, unless it is safe for people to pass (section 11.8) 
  • to take diverse measures for the safety of pedestrians and workers (Traffic routes and danger areas (section 12) such as appropriate size, sufficient safety clearance to traffic (12.2); clearance at doors, gates, passages for pedestrians, corridors, staircases (12.3), identification of traffic routes (12.4) 
EU Directive 89/391/EC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (originally published in 1989 and last updated by EU Regulation EC/1137/2008 in 2008) 

Requires employers to perform risk assessment for workplaces, including traffic areas. Prioritises measures as follows: 

  • remove hazard/risk where possible
  • introduce technical safety measures (safeguards)
  • organize work to ensure safety
  • instruct workers and provide personal protective equipment 
EN 15512:2021 Steel static storage systems — Adjustable pallet racking systems – Principles for structural design 

Design principles, testing methods and additional requirements for pallet racks. Section 6.3.4.4.1 requires protecting racks from impact by vehicles. 

 

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