Many believe that parking lots are simply safe spaces to store their vehicles while at work or while visiting other destinations or attractions. However, the statistics for parking lots paint a very different and chilling picture of thefts, accidents, and assaults. According to a recent study, parking lots are the third-most-likely place for assaults and other violent crimes.
According to OSHA, companies are required to maintain a safe work environment for both employees and customers. However, many business owners don’t realize that this also includes the employee parking lot.
Safety in parking lots is crucial for both customers and employees. In our years of experience working with brands such as Hilton, Marriott, and major healthcare systems, we have found that improving safety in vulnerable areas such as parking lots offers significant benefits. Reported benefits include improved morale, reduced employee turnover, reduced insurance claims/costs, and increased job satisfaction. Of course, maybe the most important benefit is that people feel safe when arriving at work early in the morning or leaving late at night.
The feedback we have received from clients over the years has allowed us to identify the unique safety challenges associated with parking areas and to offer some practical tips to stay safe.
Unique Parking Lot Safety Risks
- Many parking lots suffer from inadequate lighting, so after dark, they become the most potentially dangerous area at any business location. Poor visibility areas are a magnet for criminals, as they perceive the chances of avoiding identification and escaping arrest to be much higher.
- Some businesses, such as airports and hotels, often have parking lots situated in isolated areas. These areas are more attractive to criminals, and employees and customers can feel vulnerable.
- Lack of surveillance is common in parking lots, and even some of the lots with camera surveillance lack sufficient manpower to monitor 24/7 and respond to incidents in real time. Miscreants tend to become aware of such parking lots with minimal security measures and actively target them.
- Unmonitored parking lots are a prime target for wrongdoers. But often, companies cannot afford the expense of having manned security patrols or an extensive video surveillance system monitored 24/7. In addition, parking areas used by employees and/or customers may be some distance from the building and are owned by third parties, so many common-sense safety measures are simply not viable.
Top Parking Lot Safety Tips
1. Implement Adequate Lighting
The first step to ensuring safety in parking lots is to implement adequate lighting to deter criminals. A well-lit area can significantly reduce the likelihood of crimes being committed. Bright lights discourage criminals while creating a sense of security for employees or customers using the facility. It’s a simple solution, but we have seen the positive impact that this simple change can make many times over the last few years.
2. Install Surveillance Cameras
CCTV security cameras also work well to increase security and deter potential criminals. The cameras and associated signage act as a constant deterrent if they are constantly monitored. Surveillance camera footage can also be used in court, and successful prosecutions themselves can also act as a further deterrent to create a safer environment. This is not always a practical solution for our clients but where installed it has proved to be effective in reducing crime.
3. Maintain Clear Signage and Markings
Ensure that you regularly check and update signage and markings in your parking lot to maximize safety. Clearly delineated parking spaces, stop signs, speed limits, and traffic direction signs all help drivers use the parking area more safely. This is another simple yet effective solution that is often overlooked but our clients have experienced great results from making simple changes.
4. Security Personnel or Patrols
A highly effective though expensive solution to parking lot crime is to always have security personnel or patrols on-site. This will greatly reduce all security threats, theft, vandalism, assaults, and harassment. Security personnel can also help to keep on top of any maintenance by identifying issues before they cause accidents or vehicle damage. This of course is by far the most expensive way to reduce parking lot crime, but it will have a significant positive impact in terms of safety. There are also additional safety considerations for security personnel; see safety tips for security officers.
5. Encourage Employee Awareness
Fostering greater employee vigilance is a relatively inexpensive option to enhance safety in the parking lot. Educating your employees about potential risks using training sessions or informational materials helps make sure employees understand the importance of staying alert. Simple advice that has proven effective for our clients includes:
- According to the National Safety Council, distraction can often cause parking lot injuries, so stay off cell phones and be more aware of your surroundings.
- If you see anything suspicious, report it immediately and warn any co-workers in the area.
- Be wary of any strangers loitering in the parking lot.
- Pay particular attention to the position of walkways, crosswalks, exits, and the location of the main building entrance.
- Keeping any valuable items left in vehicles out of sight, especially cell phones or other portable electronic devices.
6. Utilize Technology to Enhance Safety
As we already mentioned, installing CCTV and monitoring continuously during hours of operation can greatly improve safety in parking lots, but other effective methods can work in conjunction with CCTV or as a standalone solution. The most effective of these are wearable panic buttons with optional 911 connectivity if staff or security in the building is difficult to reach or there aren’t many on shift. The ROAR panic buttons can work effectively in conjunction with other solutions such as CCTV and security personnel, or they can be used as a standalone option. They can be installed throughout the building or can be mobile and wearable by employees to protect them site-wide, even in parking lots. The ROAR panic button technology is well-proven in numerous installations where it has paid for itself in cost savings for our clients.
Real Life Considerations for Addressing Parking Lot Security
Given our company’s history of prioritizing personal safety through wearable technology and expertise in addressing safety concerns, we are uniquely well-placed to offer advice on these challenges.
Although the ideal parking environment for safety would be a secure access garage facility with 24/7 surveillance and on-site security, this is not normally possible for practical reasons and the parking area will usually fall well short of this ideal safe place. Our clients have found that the most practical and effective way to cover this shortfall is by adopting the latest in personnel security technology.
Working with many well-known brands in the hospitality and healthcare sectors over the years, we have developed a wearable technology solution which in case studies has reduced workplace assaults by 39%, decreased employee turnover, improved morale, and increased job satisfaction.
We have covered remote parking areas using self-healing Bluetooth networks with cellular backup that work effectively even in areas where WiFi or cell service is patchy at best. Employees can use wearable panic buttons connected via battery-powered beacons with wireless mounting options for easy and cost-effective implementation, and complete site protection for personnel with no drilling required.
We have many stories where employees have simply shown the panic button to intruders or would-be attackers, and this has been enough to deter them. Signage throughout the site warning that all personnel are equipped with panic buttons that call emergency service with live location tracking, has also proven to be a highly effective deterrent.
To find out how our technology can protect your employees, please schedule a free demonstration.