Information about eliminating or reducing risks to health and safety in workplace car parks.
What is a workplace car park
A workplace car park is usually attached to a workplace, for example shopping centres, hospitals, airports and some offices. The car park may also be physically separate from the workplace itself, but is provided for employee use. Workplace car parks are often also available for public use.
Who has duties
The person who manages or controls a workplace (which can include a workplace car park) has a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace and the means of entering and exiting it are safe and without risks to health.
Management or control of a workplace depends on factors like ownership and who can make changes to the workplace. For example, in a shopping centre:
If centre management owns and operates the car park, they have full management and control and they are the duty holder.
If a private operator owns and operates the car park, they have full management and control and they are the duty holder.
If centre management owns the car park and leases it to a private operator, the question of who has management or control depends on the terms of the lease agreement. For example, the private operator (the tenant) may not have management or control over structural elements of the car park, so for anything requiring structural work (such as repairing a pothole) centre management (the landlord) is the duty holder.
Employers also have obligations under the OHS Act that may be relevant to the operation or access of a workplace car park. For example, employers must:
provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health
ensure that persons other than their employees are not exposed to risks to their health and safety as a result of the conduct of the employer's undertaking
notify WorkSafe immediately after becoming aware that an incident has occurred at a workplace under the management and control of the employer
consult with employees and health and safety representatives (if any) on matters related to health or safety that affect them. For example, when identifying hazards, assessing risks and implementing controls
ensure safe systems of work are in place for employees working in the car park (such as car park attendants) and provide adequate facilities for their welfare (eg access to toilets, drinking water)
Other OHS Act duties that may apply to a workplace carpark include:
the duties of designers of buildings or structures that are to be used as a workplace to ensure they are designed to be safe and without risks to the health of people using that workplace
the duties of persons who design, manufacture or supply plant or machinery to ensure that it is designed to be safe and without risks to health
the duties of persons who install, erect or commission plant or machinery that is to be used at a workplace to ensure that nothing about the way in which the plant is installed, erected or commissioned makes its use unsafe or a risk to health
The same legal duties apply regardless of whether the car park provides free or paid parking.
Pedestrians and vehicles are constantly moving in, around and out of car parks. Common hazards include slips, trips, falls and collisions with structures (for example safety barriers), vehicles or pedestrians.
Those with management or control of a car park should identify and control all hazards in the car park, including the entries and exits. For example, they should:
consider the suitability of designated areas for staff parking, including the distance to the workplace and the layout of the carpark
ensure pathways, entries and exits are slip-resistant under wet and dry conditions
ensure that good housekeeping is maintained, for example through systems for identifying and removing oil leaks, pooled water, rubbish or debris
ensure that delivery vehicles and forklifts are separated from pedestrians
erect physical barriers between pedestrians and vehicles or create clearly marked and adequate walkways and pedestrian crossings
ensure the car park is fully accessible for people with special needs or disabilities
provide clear signage for speed, load and height restrictions
erect signage encouraging cars to back into parking spaces, to minimise instances of people walking behind cars reversing out
use CCTV to monitor activities in the car park, including in stairwells
provide a system for car park users to report hazards
ensure delivery vehicles and forklifts are only operated in designated zones that are well distanced from pedestrian areas
implement a traffic management plan for loading areas and customer parcel pick up zones
ensure vehicles exiting the car park can safely merge with road traffic
Appropriate lighting needs to be provided to allow people and vehicles to move around easily and safely.
Lighting may come from natural or artificial sources, or a combination of both.
All areas of the car park need to be adequately lit, including stairwells, corners and perimeters. Lighting arrangements need to take into account whether more lighting is required at different times of the day and night.
Other considerations for adequate lighting include:
the way in which people use the car park
the hours that the car park is in operation
the movement of natural light over the day, and across seasons
any possibility of glare, contrast and reflections, particularly at entry or exit points
the nature of any work being undertaken in the car park
any hazards and risks in the car park that may be created or worsened by inadequate lighting
Australian Standard AS1158.3.1: Road Lighting – Pedestrian Areas and AS1680.2.1: Interior and Workplace Lighting provides further practical information about appropriate lighting in car parks. However compliance with an Australian Standard does not release duty holders from their occupational health and safety obligations.
The air quality and temperature in a workplace car park needs to be managed to ensure those using the car park are not exposed to unsafe conditions.
While most people will only be in the car park for a short amount of time, others such as car park attendants or trolley collectors will experience long term exposure to the conditions in the car park. Those employees should be provided with adequate protection, such as a temperature controlled office (where reasonably practicable) or personal protective equipment.
Risks associated with temperature and exposure to airborne contaminants such as carbon monoxide and diesel exhaust need to be assessed and controlled. For example, those with management and control of the car park should consider:
the air movement, air temperature, humidity and radiant heat in the car park at different times of day
weather conditions during each season
the amount of ventilation, whether through natural or mechanical ventilation
the length of time different users are likely to be exposed to the conditions in the car park, and what activities they will be undertaking (for example physical activities like trolley collecting)
the levels of hazardous substances people may be exposed to, such as carbon monoxide, and whether this is likely to exceed the exposure standard for the hazardous substance
Occupational violence and aggression (OVA) includes:
eye rolling and sneering
yelling, swearing or calling names
standing over someone
spitting, shoving, tripping, grabbing, hitting and punching
threats of violence or threats with weapons
incidents of violence or with weapons
use of vehicles for intimidation or assault (eg engine revving, inappropriate horn use, following or striking pedestrians)
These behaviours may occur in workplace car parks from clients, customers, co-workers, staff from other workplaces or the public.
Duty holders should develop and implement appropriate health and safety policies and initiatives to eliminate occupational violence and aggression by:
implementing a system for reporting incidents of occupational violence and aggression
ensuring employees have a way to call for immediate assistance
immediately reporting criminal matters to police
investigating incidents and reviewing existing controls
if required, where reasonably practicable, accompanying staff or providing security escorts for staff to their car
making sure allocated staff car parks are not isolated
Those with management or control should also seek the views of the other tenants of the shopping centre and their employees on ways to reduce risks of occupational violence and aggression in workplace car parks.
Related Australian Standards
Australian Standard AS1158.3.1: Road Lighting – Pedestrian Areas
Australian Standard AS1680.2.1: Interior and workplace lighting