We must all take responsibility for health and safety on the site.
Apart from the usual considerations such as being careful in the use of tools, please the bear the following in mind
Allotment sites and the activity of gardening is relatively risk free if people are aware of the hazards and make steps to ensure that themselves, other people and wildlife are not put at risk. The Committee will undertake risk assessments each year
Digging the soil is one of the most physically demanding tasks in gardening, as it involves continued bending and straightening of the back when lifting a spade of soil. It needs to be approached with care, particularly if you are not used to heavy work. Sensible shoes are essential to save you from a forked foot or worse.
Ensure that you do not leave broken glass and other hazardous materials on the allotment.
Tetanus or Lockjaw
This is a serious infection caused by bacterium that lives in the soil and especially manured soil. It enters the body through the tiniest abrasion, scratch, thorn, puncture or cut and a few days or weeks later the illness hits. Please make sure that you have a vaccination that can protect you against tetanus.
Wear gloves and a long -sleeved shirt when pruning plants that can cause skin irritations for example ivy, euphorbia or rue.
Garden tools can be a hazard if they are not stored properly or are left lying around the garden when not in use. For example upturned spades and forks
Pesticides and fertilisers
Ensure that chemicals are kept securely locked in their own cupboard in your shed, away from children and in clearly marked containers. Do not keep them in lemonade bottles or other food containers or leave them lying around your plot. If you must use chemicals, please keep them to your own plot and do not put them on your neighbour’s plot. They may garden organically and will not thank you for it! When using pesticides or fertilisers ensure to wear suitable clothing. Please ensure that pesticides or fertilisers are disposed of responsibly.
Pesticides should never be included in household rubbish, burnt, placed in skips or poured into any kind of drainage system or watercourse.
First aid kit
A first aid kit is a wise addition to the tools kept in the garden shed. A small selection of adhesive plasters, antiseptic ointment, a pair of tweezers for removing thorns and splinters and a gauze or lint pad to use as a compress to stop the bleeding if you are badly cut.
Most power tools need specific safety and handling training e.g. power chainsaws, strimmers, lawn mowers with metal blades and rotavators. A large rotavator can be a bit of a strain to control, so can take a while to get used to it. Power strimmers, shredders, all have their dangers as well. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
In very hot weather, especially in greenhouses, it is possible, although very rare, for Legionella (Legionnaires’ Disease to multiply in warm water to potentially harmful levels. Avoid storing potting media in greenhouses or spraying fine mists
Ponds and water
Ponds that are planned and maintained properly pose a tiny risk, far outweighed by the numerous benefits to wildlife and enjoyment to people of all ages. People at most risk of drowning in ponds are children under three years of age. Risk from drowning decreases as a child’s age increases and so their understanding of the danger. Children should be supervised on allotments at all times and must not go on other people’s plots without their express permission.
Aim to make ponds shallow and seasonal; 30-50cm at the deepest point is sufficient for biodiversity and sloping sides also prevent drowning of mammals that come to drink water. In winter use a float to prevent icing -over, otherwise children may be tempted to walk on ice and pond-life will be starved of oxygen.
Hazards for wildlife on allotments
These include: litter, low-level fruit netting, use of pesticides, open drains, slug pellets, mowing, strimming, broken glass and pre-stacked bonfires. Certain wildlife e.g.slow worms, some birds of prey and reptiles have specific legal protection concerning their management
Rats carry 70 diseases including Weil’s Disease , which can cause human death via contaminated water. Plot holders must be vigilant and report any signs of infestation.
Risk of infection
Humans are at risk of infection from handling animal manure. Always wear gloves when handling any type of manure. Fresh manure should be heaped for 6 months, giving time for e-coli to break down. It is the responsibility of the plot holders for basic hygiene and to check tetanus boosters are up to date. Stopping for a lunch break helps restore energy after lots of digging but don’t forget to wash your hands first. Keep a hand-sterilising gel handy or in the shed. Always wash your fruit or vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
Oak Processionary Moth
Although not recorded on the site, it has been reported in the local area. If it is seen, please report in the appropriate way, details of how to do this are on the Notice Board.
Allotment gardeners often spend long periods of time on their own on site: take personal safety seriously and tell another person where you are going and what time you will be back. If you have a mobile telephone take it with you. Always lock the gate behind you upon entering and leaving the site. Be aware of weather conditions that can affect walking surfaces such as hardcore, grass. Use sunscreen to protect you from over exposure to the sun.
There is no law preventing bonfires, or specifying the time that you can have them. The Environmental Protection Act (1990), however, prohibits a statutory nuisance being caused by smoke. Check weather conditions to ensure that there is not significant wind, do not leave a fire unattended and ensure that it is completely put out with water before you leave. Check your bonfire for wildlife before lighting it.
The Committee holds the Risk Register and reviews any incidents on a regular basis. If you wish to add new issues, please contact the Committee. The most recent version is on the notice board.