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Outdoor car parks: common hazards from a user’s perspective

When designing an outdoor car park, it pays to always be aware of the hazards that can adversely affect both people and vehicles. While it is the car park owner’s responsibility to ensure that the park is well-maintained, designers of these spaces should be aware of the potential risks found in outdoor car parks. To assist designers detail safe, flat pavements to mitigate these risks, ACO has compiled a list of design challenges and solutions.

carpark water ponding1. Water ponding causing inconvenience
Water ponding occurs when an uneven surface allows water to collect in one or multiple locations instead of being adequately drained away. In light rain, this is not too much of a hazard but stormwater can very quickly accumulate with sustained or heavy rain, fast becoming a dangerous nuisance for carpark users to navigate.

car park grated pitsThe principle cause of an undulating surface is a poorly integrated drainage system in the outdoor car park. These often come in the form of a grated pit and pipe system which are reliant on pavement gradients. Carparks that are designed in this way are typically covered by numerous grated pits spread out over its trafficable surface. Each pit is surrounded on all sides by gradients to naturally allow water, in the vicinity of the grate, to runoff into it. If these pits or grates become blocked or the surface gradients change due to the pavement settling, then water ponding can occur. This can make large areas of the car park inaccessible or can block in motorists who have already parked their vehicles.

2. Runaway trolleys causing damage
A frequently experienced hazard in any car park is the danger posed by runaway shopping trolleys. Wayward trolleys are often caused by undulating surface gradients and ramps, which can lead the trolley to gain speed before coming to a stop when the surface evens out or it hits a vehicle or pedestrian. Additionally drainage systems reliant on gradients can instigate trolleys moving of their own accord.

While shopping trolleys are designed to be easily manoeuvrable, the hazard presented by them cannot be underestimated. Damage caused to vehicles by trolleys is up to $1 million per year with the average cost per vehicle being $800. When laden with groceries and out of control, trolleys can reach speeds of up to 10km/h, fast enough to collide with car park users with little time to react.

3. Slips and falls
Slips and falls are the most common form of injury sustained by people. Often caused by uneven or unstable surfaces, injuries sustained from slips and falls affect multiple sections of society due to time taken off of work, compensation awarded to the injured party, and legal costs potentially faced by the business responsible for the maintenance of the surface where the slip occurred.
Car parks add to the danger presented from slips and falls. If a user slips on an uneven surface, a drainage grate, or a kerb, they run the risk of colliding with a vehicle in motion or being obscured from motorists. Both of these scenarios can greatly exacerbate the injury sustained, and lead to a greater financial cost faced by the company or business if the injured party decides to pursue litigation.

4. Potential Legal ramifications
From a legal sense, the areas of responsibilities are clear. To prevent litigation and injury, designers are obliged to ensure hazards are designed out of car parks. Businesses and companies who have car parks on their property must maintain these areas and ensure that they are safe and hazard-free for users.

If a user does injure themselves on a property as a consequence of any kind of preventable hazard, the financial consequences for the owner can be severe. In some situations, the designer can be held, at least, partly responsible. It is not uncommon for compensation payments in Australia to be anywhere between $400,000 to even as high as $1 million depending on the nature of the injury. To prevent these outcomes, owners should make sure that their car parks are maintained regularly and that the correct drainage system is integrated from the beginning.

5. Solutions

carpark drainage solutionsThe best way to prevent water and slip hazards in an outdoor car park is to ensure that the drainage systems specified are best suited for the application. When compared to other drainage systems such as grated pit and pipe systems the ACO Drain system leads the competition thanks to superior hydraulic performance, water collection, heel safety, and ease of installation and maintenance. To help designers keep pavements level, ACO Drain channels can be assembled to produce sloped runs.

ACO drainage products are able to cater for large-scale outdoor car parks with ease. When IKEA opened a store in Sydney’s Marsden Park earlier this year, they required a safe and cost-effective drainage system that would prevent hazards and remove rain water with ease.

To meet these requirements, designers installed ACO’s KerbDrain system, which is integrated with the kerb layout, removing any need for undulation in the car park’s surface while still allowing for optimal rain water collection.

If you want to find out more about any of ACO’s drainage products, call 1300 765 226 to speak with an expert – or contact us now via email.

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