November 2, 2015

Bollards and hazard warning signs – there for a reason

Bollard and hazard signs

We all see a great deal of signage out and about in our daily lives. Road closed signs, traffic diversions and wet floor signs to name but a few are very common. It can become quite frustrating trying to avoid roads and pavements closed or cordoned off, or negotiate around yellow signs warning us to watch out for slippery floors or spillages.

What we often forget is that, frustrating as they may be, bollards and temporary warning signs are there for a reason and we ignore them or move them at our peril.

Our Personal Injury team have dealt with claims for clients who have fallen down holes in the pavement where signage had either not been put out or hadn’t been put out properly, or had been moved, either with good intention or maliciously. In one case, a client suffered injury due to a recovery vehicle winching across a wide pavement (which included a cycle lane). No measures had been taken to warn pedestrians or cyclists that there was a metal cable at knee height across the width of the pavement as it was the same colour as the tarmac. The cable was not obvious and our client walked into it. This accident could have been avoided had simple precautions been taken, such as the use of bollards, signs of winching flags on the cable.

It should be common sense if, for instance, you see bollards on the pavement, or a wet floor sign, that even if you can’t immediately see the reason for them, your first thought should be there must be a danger to be avoided.

Look at the above two photos of a breakdown truck, whose driver is winching vehicles firstly from a driveway and secondly from a restricted alley, out onto the pavement. The driver, who is working on his own, has taken all possible measures to put out bollards on the pavement. When the cable is at ground level, it does not present a great hazard though it could still cause someone to trip, but once the winch is being pulled in, the driver can’t put anything on the cable or it will snag up. In that scenario, people might question why the bollards are there and could be tempted to ignore them and carry on walking – straight into collision with the cable. Whose fault would that be?

4 simple ways to avoid an accident

  1. If you see bollards or signs out, pay attention to them. Remember that they are probably there for a very good reason, so read and follow any instructions or take the time to use the alternative route.
  2. Don’t remove bollards just because you can’t see any hazard or think you can squeeze by – there could easily be a hidden obstruction you can’t see.
  3. Don’t assume bollards or signage have been left out by mistake and remove them or move them elsewhere, you could be risking someone else having an accident.
  4. Report any defect or hazard yourself, e.g. to an employee, the local Council or even the Police on 101 if it’s serious enough - even if it does not cause you to have an accident, the next person may not be so lucky.
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