Footpath closed sign

£1.2 million fine demonstrates importance of pedestrian routes

A workplace transport case has highlighted the importance of providing pedestrian routes on construction sites, so that they are kept safe from all forms of vehicle.

A Yorkshire metals recycling company has been fined £1.2m after a worker was injured after being struck by a wagon at a processing site.

On 10 August 2020 an employee of CF Booth Limited was walking across the site yard in Rotherham when he was struck by a moving 32-tonne skip wagon. The man was not wearing his hi-vis jacket and did not see the wagon approaching. The wagon driver did not see the employee prior to the collision due to concentrating on manoeuvring the vehicle around some low-level skips which had been placed on the corner near where the employee was crossing the yard.

Following the incident, the man sustained a fractured skull and also fractured his collar bone in two places but has since made a full recovery.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that at the time of the incident the site was not organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate in a safe manner. A suitable and sufficient workplace transport risk assessment was not in place for the segregation of vehicles and pedestrians. The company had failed to take steps to properly assess the risks posed by the movement of vehicles and pedestrians. The incident could have been prevented by adequately assessing the risks and implementing appropriate control measures such as physical barriers and crossing points.

At Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on 25 April, CF Booth Limited pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £1.2million and ordered to pay costs of £5,694.85.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kirstie Durrans said:

“If CF Booth Limited had assessed the risks and ensured vehicles and pedestrians could circulate in a safe manner, this incident could have easily been avoided.”

Demonstrating the importance of this issue, earlier this year a company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter after an agency worker was killed when he was struck and run over by a work vehicle.

Dean Atkinson had been returning from the site’s welfare cabins to his workstation on the picking line. To do so, he needed to walk across a traffic area at the site where mobile plant, including two loading shovels, operated. One of the loading shovels struck and killed Mr Atkinson when he was walking in the traffic area.

The HSE investigation into the incident found Ward Recycling failed to protect pedestrians from the mobile plant operations it was carrying out at the site. There were no suitable traffic management arrangements in place, meaning pedestrians were at risk of being struck by moving vehicles, including loading shovels. 

Ward Recycling Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, and Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £1.75m for corporate manslaughter and £400,000 for breaching health and safety regulations at Middlesbrough Crown Court on 26 January 2024.

HSE inspector Stephen Garner said:

“This tragic incident could easily have been avoided if Ward Recycling had implemented simple control measures. Following the incident, it took the company less than a week to put in place an alternative traffic route to protect pedestrians.”

The HSE offers the following guidance:

  • By law, pedestrians or vehicles must be able to use a traffic route without causing danger to the health or safety of people working near it.
  • Roadways and footpaths should be separate whenever possible.
  • You need to consider protection for people who work near vehicle routes.
  • By law, traffic routes must also keep vehicle routes far enough away from doors or gates that pedestrians use, or from pedestrian routes that lead on to them, so the safety of pedestrians is not threatened.

Questions to ask
Your risk assessment should include answers to these questions:

  • How are pedestrians and cyclists kept away from vehicles?
  • How do you mark out and sign vehicle and pedestrian areas?
  • Where do vehicles and pedestrians have to use the same route?
  • How do you mark out and sign crossing points for drivers? For pedestrians?
  • How do you tell drivers and pedestrians about the routes and the layout? For example, staff who work on site (training), new staff (induction), and visitors.
  • Apart from collisions, what else presents a health and safety risk? For example, materials falling from vehicles, noise and fumes.
    • How can you manage these risks?

Pedestrians and cyclists
A driver, pedestrian or cyclist needs enough time to react successfully if they meet one another (for example, where there is limited visibility or where other noise might mask the approach of a vehicle).

Wherever it is reasonable to do so, you should provide separate routes or pavements for pedestrians to keep them away from vehicles. The most effective way to do this is to separate pedestrian from vehicle activity, by making routes entirely separate.

Limited access
Pedestrians should be kept away from areas where vehicles are working unless they need to be there. A good example of this is quarry working, where drivers are usually not allowed out of their vehicles beyond a certain point to make sure they are safe where large surface mining vehicles are operating.

Barriers and markings
Effective ways to keep vehicles away from pedestrian areas include:

  • Protective barriers;
  • Clear markings to set apart vehicle and pedestrians routes; and
  • Raised kerbs to mark vehicle and pedestrian areas.

Where needed, provide suitable barriers or guard rails:

  • At entrances and exits to buildings;
  • At the corners of buildings; and
  • To prevent pedestrians from walking straight on to roads.

Crossing points
Where pedestrian and vehicle routes cross, provide appropriate crossing points for people to use. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should be able to see clearly in all directions. Crossing points should be suitably marked and signposted and should include dropped kerbs where the walkway is raised from the driving surface.

Where necessary, provide barriers or rails to prevent pedestrians from crossing at dangerous points and to direct them to the crossing places. Similarly, you can use deterrent paving to guide pedestrians to the crossing points.

Find out more about organising traffic routes to keep pedestrians safe.