Carpark Compliance Solutions General Manager Michael Reid examines the important issue of car park safety, compliance with existing regulatory standards and the need for parking facilities to undertake safety audits.

Car parks can be hazardous environments due to their high level of vehicle and pedestrian activity. Owners of car park facilities are responsible for the safety of those who use their parking facilities, an aspect that was highlighted recently in a legal case involving the death of a man who accidentally reversed through a safety barrier in a hotel car park in Sydney.

Both the hotel and the council were found to be negligent as the car park’s perimeter railings used for edge protection failed to comply with Australian Standard AS1170.1. The court also found that the concrete wheel stops had not been installed properly and the metal perimeter railing failed to comply with Australian Standards, contributing to the man’s death.

This incident highlights the urgent need for car parks everywhere to undertake a safety audit to ensure their facility’s compliance with current standards.

A similar incident occurred two years ago at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle with the driver escaping serious injury; however, the accident prompted the hospital to replace its perimeter edging with a load bearing barrier that exceeded current Australian Standards to prevent a repeat accident.

Engineers designing car parks or any car park infrastructure should consider the live load bearing of perimeter edging and its ability to withstand a vehicle impact. The current Australian Standard requires a vehicle barrier to withstand a 30 kilo-newton measure of force, which is equivalent to the impact of a 1,500 kilogram vehicle (a mid-size sedan) travelling at eight kilometres per hour.

Carpark Compliance Solutions believes this current Australian Standard does not address modern family vehicles such as SUVs, or the actual car park traffic scenario where cars of all sizes are often travelling at a much greater speed within car park facilities. Mere compliance with the current Australian Standard is unlikely to prevent the consequences of a vehicle accidentally ploughing through a car park barrier at high speed.

In comparison, British standards for car park safety barriers are more stringent and reflect a more accurate representation of a car park vehicle speed, which is set at 150 kilo-newton, and designed to accommodate the impact of the average size sedan travelling at 20km per hour.

Carpark Compliance Solutions also calls for more education around actual car park activity to ensure public safety. The perimeter standards should also be reviewed to reflect higher traffic flow.

Nearly every hotel facility has an area set aside for parking. Undertaking a car park safety and compliance audit will help to identify whether safety upgrades are required and ensure the structure is aligned with current Australian Standards.

Carpark Compliance Solutions’ advice for car park facility managers

1. Review your current inspection and maintenance procedures, and ensure those responsible are aware of the current Australian Standards and compliance requirements.

2. Assess the entire facility, including the exterior perimeter, observing and noting areas of risk. Check perimeter balustrades and vehicle barriers for signs of wear or rust.

3. Review pedestrian safety guardrails along staircases and walkways between levels, and the need for anti-climbing barriers to ensure the safety of children.

4. Identify potential blind spots when entering, exiting, and driving around the facility. Consider whether high impact end ramp barriers and safety guardrails need upgrading.

5. Ensure the entire facility has adequate signage, lighting and ventilation, and that the vehicle driveway line marks are clearly visible.

Carpark Compliance Solutions manufactures and distributes a comprehensive range of fully engineered and tested vehicle, pedestrian and industrial safety barrier systems that meet or exceed Australian Standard AS1170.1.