Understanding Track Safety for Motorsport Businesses

Posted on | Posted in General, RS&L

The HSE has recently published findings on the competence of motorsport business owners and event organisers when putting on racetrack events. Their investigation, in conjunction with Fife council, noted a lack of awareness and understanding surrounding track safety. Therefore, they have published the following safety notice as well as action required.

This article contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/

Safety Risks at Motorsport Events

Motorsport is classed as inherently dangerous. Upon risk analysis – risk control and mitigation measures need to be put in place to reduce many of the dangers. It is important that business owners, duty holders and event organisers understand that the importance of following procedure and obey proper practice. Putting in place appropriate vehicle restraint barriers is a huge risk management measure unique to motorsport businesses. Failure to use appropriate vehicle restraint barriers may lead to serious safety incidents as well as breaches in regulation and therefore insurance terms.

Is there a Lack of Awareness around Track Barrier Safety Regulations?

An area has been made ‘of concern’ to the HSE. In partnership with Fife council, there have been reports of improper use of directional segregation barriers. There is a distinct difference between their purpose and the purpose of vehicle restraint barriers, one that should not be misunderstood. The lack of awareness has resulted in the use of untested or unapproved barriers at locations, resulting in a drop in trackside safety standards.

What are the duties of motorsports business owners and motorsport event organisers?

Knowledge of safety standards and implementation of proper procedure are key duties of both motorsports business owners and motorsport event organisers.

Due to the recent reports of improper barrier-use and various safety standard breaches, the HSE have mandated action:

Motorsports business owners and motorsport event organisers must themselves, and ensure those who they have entrusted to hold duties, understand the following:

  • That a barrier is suitable for its intended use, as said by the supplier or manufacturer.
  • That purpose made vehicle restraint barriers are available for use, and are necessary, and cannot be substituted with generic segregation barriers.
  • That vehicle restraint barriers require maintenance and have a life cycle.
  • That there is a responsibility to be confident in installing vehicle restraint barriers.
  • That documentation of vehicle restraint barrier, location, installation and maintenance needs to be documented.


The HSE has listed a brief overview of what barriers to use for potential vehicle impacts and why:

What barriers to have in place for motorsport events

Each barrier may have different designs and customisations, but certain barriers are suitable for certain purposes. The most critical factor is how suitable a barrier is for vehicle impacts, and this dictates where barriers should be placed around the track.

Barriers that are classed as vehicle restraint barriers have properly been tested and approved – others will not have. For example, generic plastic barriers that are used on other sites will not be suitable for track sports. Duty holders must ensure all barriers are appropriately installed and located, and that danger areas, such as those illustrated below, are address and protected.


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