Safety Railings on the East Pier – Part 1

Lack of Safety Railings Needs Addressing.

I feel morally obliged to draw attention to a situation on Whitby’s East Pier, which I am convinced will eventually result in somebody being either seriously injured or even killed.

These are the relevant facts:

  1. The sides of the East Pier are practically vertical. In parts the deck of the pier is in excess of 10 metres above the adjoining beach.
  2. There are currently no  hand railings around the perimeter of the East Pier, apart from a small stretch of light gauge railing along the pier’s western edge.
  3. There are currently no ladders whatsoever on the northern seaward side of the East Pier.
  4. The existing stone deck and concrete patching provides a host of potential trip hazards. Furthermore some parts of the edge of the deck are very irregular. I am aware that SBC have now erected signs on the East Pier advising about ‘slippery and uneven surfaces’ and warning of possible ‘slips and trips’. They also point out the fact that the edges of the pier are ‘unprotected’. However, a slip or a trip is an involuntary occurrence that could cause a person to fall over the unprotected edge of the pier.

The same notice also emphasises the need for ‘close supervision of children’. But the nightmare scenario will always remain of a responsible parent losing control, even for a split second, of an excited child.

    Similarly, anybody who momentarily loses concentration or leans over the edge to obtain a better view could be in mortal danger. It is also not difficult to appreciate the possible repercussions of boisterous incidents might have for both the participants and any innocent bystanders.  In the absence of a handrail there is simply nothing to protect the public from serious harm .

A cautionary notice makes people aware of the danger around them – and is to be applauded. But it is no substitute for physical life-saving preventative measures such as handrails and ladders.

5. When the tide is out, anybody falling from the East Pier will crash onto either the projecting steel sheet pile and concrete scour protection, or the stone boulders, or the hard mudstone rock outcrop.

6. When the tide is in, anybody falling into the water on the seaward side of the East Pier is unlikely to survive, even if they retain consciousness. This stretch of water is particularly turbulent, due to the waves diverted between the East Pier Extension and the bull nose of the East Pier merging with the incoming tide. Survivors would not be able to climb out because there are no ladders available at that location. The two lifebuoys, especially in the hands of amateurs, do not inspire confidence.

  1. The 2009 Royal Haskoning Report made the following comment in respect of the East Pier: ‘The pier has no guard rail around the pier edge despite drops of up to 8m, with the exception of the last 80m on the seaward side. Whilst the pier is less popular with the public, the risk of falls by the public, operational and maintenance staff remains due to the exposed nature of the piers, warn surfacing and trips hazards.’ Why have SBC ignored this warning for the last ten years?

[Part 2 of this letter about safety railings will be published here soon…]

V McLaughlan, Whitby

This letter was received by Fight4Whitby this month and was also published in the Whitby Gazette on 8 Feb 2019.

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