All activities carry an element of risk and allotment gardening is no exception. Everyone needs to take health and safety seriously but it is also important not to become ‘litigation paranoid’. This policy is based on recommendations from ARI (The Allotments Regeneration Initiative)
and used with permission. Good gardening is safe gardening, and many risks to both ourselves and others can be easily prevented.
Under civil law, and as set out in the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957, all plot-holders have a duty of care to anyone accessing their plot, and the pathways for which they are responsible. This includes both authorised and unauthorised visitors. As an association, we have a communal duty to ensure that common areas, such as the car park and main access paths are safe. The law requires that in all these areas we exercise at least a ‘reasonable’ level of care regarding safety. Although unlikely, a claim could be made for negligence when an individual suffered an injury because we didn’t take reasonable precautions. It is not possible in English law to exclude liability, for example by way of a notice. We are also obliged to comply with other laws, such as those regarding environmental and wildlife protection.
Our Health & Safety Policy, although summarised in this document, is implemented through our Constitution and Rules, Newsletters, Web site and introduction to the site by the membership secretary. In addition, twice a year, a risk and hazard assessment will be carried out by the Committee or designated persons, and appropriate actions taken both to minimise hazards and risks, and to update this policy.
A hazard is something that can cause injury, for example the road access, the parking area, power tools, exposed sharp edges. Hazards can sometimes be removed, but may be inevitable. Risks are the potential threats caused by the hazards, for example injury from a hidden sharp edge, a vehicle accident. Risks can usually be avoided.
Injuries and “near-misses”, and any other safety-related issues must be reported to a member of the Committee so that any existing hazard or risk can be eliminated and prevented in the future.
It will be ensured that plots are free from hazard on leasing to new plot-holders, and to advise them of this policy and any known hazards.
Here are some safety rules:
- It is recommended that, particularly at quiet times, plot-holders inform someone where they are, and their likely return time.
- Emergency numbers will be posted on the notice-board and regularly updated.
- Plot-holders should ensure that their plot and associated accesses are free from hazard: hazards may include sharp edges, exposed nails, improperly stored tools, hazards hidden within undergrowth such as discarded tools, improperly stored dangerous materials such as those listed below. Please remember that we are legally responsible for the safety of anybody who may enter our plots.
- Plot-holders must acquaint themselves with, and adhere strictly to, the guidelines regarding storage, usage and disposal of hazardous materials such as glass, pesticides, fertilisers, asbestos cement, oil, and fuel. These must be securely stored in the proper containers, and well away from possible reach by children.
- Plot-holders should acquaint themselves with the safe use, and storage, of tools, particularly power tools.
- Plot-holders should be vigilant for rats, rabbits and other vermin, and inform a member of the Committee if evidence of vermin is observed.
- Plot-holders should report vandalism or other evidence of intruders to a member of the committee for reporting to the police.
- Plot-holders should ensure that the gate is kept closed at all times, both to prevent ingress of rabbits, and egress of children.
- It is recommended that you reverse your vehicle when parking as this has been shown to significantly reduce accidents.
Twice a year, the Committee will carry out a risk assessment of the site. This usually involves two people touring the site, identifying hazards, assessing risks, and deciding on actions. Risk assessment involves listing potential risks caused by these hazards, assessing the frequency that people are exposed to those hazards, the probability of injury and the impact of such injury. Some risks are so great that immediate action must be taken, some are severe enough that some action needs to be considered, and others may need no action.
Most injuries are easily prevented. Good gardening is safe gardening and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that we garden in a safe way.