Health and Safety



Health and Safety Policy Statement

Edition 1.1, March 2009

1. The Friends of Priors hill Copse (FOPNC) Health and Safety Policy comprises three parts.

  • Policy Statement. A general statement of FOPHC’s commitment to health and safety of its members and those affected by its work.
  • Organisation. A description of the roles and responsibilities of the group, its individual members and the organisations it works with.
  • Arrangements. A summary of how health and safety measures are applied in FOPHC.

Policy Statement

Commitment to Safety

2. FOPHC an organisation made up entirely of volunteers is committed to a policy of carrying out its activities in accordance with its constitution to ensure the health and safety of its members and everyone associated or affected by its work.

General Responsibilities

3. It is the responsibility of the elected committee of FOPHC to execute this policy and recognise that it has legal obligations under the Healthy and Safety of Work Act 1974. It will coordinate the participation of all its members and those organisations with which the group cooperates.

  • To ensure each member of FOHC not only contributes to conservation work constructively and enjoyable but also safely. They need to understand the policy as it applies to them and to put it in to practise.
  • When working on behalf of national or local authorities and formal conservation bodies, some responsibilities for health and safety and its supervision pass to that organisation.

Meeting this Commitment

4. FOPHC, working either independently or in conjunction with national and local authorities and formal conservation bodies, will strive to meet its commitment to health and safety by:

  • Identifying and assessing hazards associated with its work and activities, and eliminate or reduce the risks arising from them by the introduction of measures.
  • Adopting safe and healthy working practices using BTCV code of practice as appropriate.
  • Make available appropriate instruction and where necessary, training in the tasks to be undertaken.


  • Make available supervision and first aid cover during work sessions.
  • Analyse information from all reported incidents with a view to modifying methods of work if necessary.
  • Take informed advice on health and safety matters in the conservation field.
  • Ensuring the provision of adequate insurance cover that meets the needs of the group.


5. This policy statement is supported by notes on the organisation and arrangements for health and safety which, together with other information, constitutes FOPHC Health and Safety Manual.

6. This material will be made available to all members of FOPHC who are expected to ensure their own safety and that of those affected by their work.


7. This policy statement has been approved by the FOPHC committee

Signed……………………………..Print name ……………………………… Chairman

Signed……………………………..Print name………………………………..Secretary

Signed…………………………… Print name……………………………….Treasurer


Committee Responsibilities

8. FOPHC’s elected committee is responsible for the formulation of health and safety policy taking in to account legal requirements and any rules or conditions which arise from cooperating with national and local authorities and formal conservation bodies.

9. The relevant national and local authorities.

  • Hampshire County Council. Countryside department Royal Victoria Country Park.
  • Eastleigh Borough Council. Countryside department.
  • Hound Parish Council. Direct contact with Parish Clerk and councillors.

10. The relevant conservation bodies.

  • British Trust of Conservation Volunteers.
  • Hampshire Wildlife Trust.


11. The committee will review health and safety matters at its regular committee meetings, and will keep the groups policy up to date. They will also analyse any reports of incidents with a view to revising policy, responsibilities or arrangements as necessary.

Individual Responsibilities.

12. The chairman of FOPHC committee is overall responsible for the implementation of health and safety policy. Delegated responsibilities are as follow:

FOPHC Health and Safety Officer Mr D Walters is the current nominated Health and Safety officer. His responsibilities are to ensure the FOPHC health and safety policy is correctly carried out on all work sessions and other activities; working through team leaders as appropriate. He is to ensure that a trained first aider is available for work days, and adequate insurance cover that meets the needs of FOPHC is in place.

Team Leaders. To ensure for every work session there is a team leader: If because of the nature of the work the group is split, further section leaders will be appointed. All such leaders are responsible for correctly applying health and safety policies to their tasks.

Individual Volunteers. All members have a principle duty of care to themselves which means they are not to undertake tasks for which they are unsuited or for which they are unfamiliar. They also have a responsibility to correctly observe instructions and information briefed in detail at each work session. Guidance for individuals on these matters is contained in ANNEX A to this Policy Statement which is to be issued to all Group members.

External Responsibilities.

13. National and Local Authorities. When FOPHC carries out work on behalf of the authorities listed in paragraph 9 above it is the responsibility of those organisation ahead of the work session to:

  • · Agree the scope of work
  • · Carry out a Risk Assessment and make it know to FOPHC
  • · Provide tools if required
  • · Provide specialist support such as chain saw operation
  • · As necessary, notify residents and landowners that work is to take place.

In some cases the authorities will supervise the work. Otherwise it will be the responsibility of the FOPHC to brief its own members on the task, stick to the agreed scope of work, and supervise it. In both cases the work will be covered by the local authorities insurance.

14. Conservation Bodies. As for National and Local Authorities.

15. Landowners. Site owners are responsible for health and safety on their properties. In many cases FOPHC will be working with local authorities or formal conservation bodies on land which they own in which case there is no conflict of interest. In some cases, however, work will take place on private property which will be enabled by prior arrangement when this is practicable.




16. FOPHC considers that sound organisation and leader are the foundations for good health and safety practices. Through its committee the Group strives to be well organised to carry out conservation work in Priors Hill Copse. Measures taken include:

  • · An agreed Constitution
  • · A committee elected annually by members at the AGM
  • · Maintenance of an up-to-date membership list and a record of attendance with hours worked.
  • · Adequate warning for members of work sessions and other activities, including details of clothing and equipment needed.
  • · Good liaison with all organisations responsible for or involved with conservation in the local area.

Work Sessions

17. FOPHC’s work sessions are normally carried on Sundays in accordance with the management plan compiled by EBC and HPC. The work dates are arranged at committee meetings up to six months ahead a minimum of two weeks notice is given to members. FOPHC Health and Safety Policy apply equally to any small mid-week work sessions as to main sessions.

18. For each work session an experienced volunteer is nominated as Team Leader who is responsible for preparation and conduct of the task including:

  • · Planning and reconnaissance
  • · Liaison with national or local authorities and conservation bodies as appropriate
  • · Where necessary, giving prior warning to residents and landowners of the work to be carried out (see sample letter at ANNEX B)
  • · Conduct of a Risk Assessment or adherence to one carried out by the responsible authority
  • Provision of tools, other equipment including Hi-viz jackets, stores, plants etc.
  • Control of tools on site in terms of accounting, security and handling
  • Ensuring a first aid kit is available and first aid cover clearly defined
  • Having a mobile phone switched on all the time
  • Completing a Task and Attendance Record (ANNEX C)
  • Clearly briefing volunteers at the start of the session on the tasks to be carried out, the risks involved and the method of work plus issue of Hi-viz jackets


  • Supervising the work. The emphasis for the Team Leader is supervision rather than carrying out work.
  • Dealing with questions from the public and any incidents including reporting after the event.
  • Provision of drinks and refreshments. This is particularly important in very hot and very cold weather conditions
  • Clearing the site of any debris and ensuring the site is left in a tidy and safe condition
  • Disposing of rubbish in an environmentally friendly way
  • Return of tools and equipment to the FOPHC store in a clean condition reporting any faults.
  • The Team Leader needs to allow sufficient time for these activities.

19. On occasions when it is necessary to split the workforce into smaller groups, the Team Leader is to nominate suitably experienced volunteers who are familiar with the type of work to act as Section Leaders. The Team Leader is to ensure that Section Leaders:

  • Are fully acquainted with the specific tasks they are to undertake
  • Are aware of their responsibilities for the health and safety of their volunteers
  • Have a mobile phone switched on and are aware of (through a duplicate of the Task and Attendance Sheet) of the essential numbers.
  • Are familiar with first aid cover arrangement


20. From time to time FOPHC will undertake tasks which may take considerable time to plan and execute. These are termed Projects and are the responsibility of a nominated Project Manager, normally a member of the committee.

21. The Project Manager is responsible for making a project plan and this is to include a Risk Assessment for the project as a whole.

Risk Assessments

22. All work carried out by BCG is to be the subject of a prior Risk Assessment which in some cases will be carried out by the local authority or other responsible agency.

23. The FOPHC Team Leader nominated for the task is responsible for conducting the Risk Assessment some days before the task is to take place. He should review this with a second experienced person. He is then to brief it to his team at the start of the session.

24. In making Risk Assessments, Team Leaders should refer to:

HSE Leaflet INDG 163 “Five Steps to Risk Assessment”


25. Further references if needed are:

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, Approved Code of Practice, HSC L2 1
  • BTCV publication “Generic Risk Assessments”

26. Risks are to be rated as follows:

Likelihood Severity Certain Very Likely Likely May Happen Unlikely
(5) (4) (3) (2) (1)
Death (5) 25 20 15 10 5
Major Injury (4) 20 16 12 8 4
Over three day injury (3) 15 12 9 6 3
Minor injury (treatment off site) (2) 10 8 6 4 2
Minor injury (first aid on site) (1) 5 4 3 2 1

Any tasks that scores in the red are not to be carried out, tasks that score yellow try to reduce the scoring by training and protective equipment, green can be ignored.

27. They are to be recorded on the FOPHC Task and Attendance sheet (ANNEX C) Particular Hazards

28. FOPHC operates in a semi-rural area where there are plenty of houses with their attendant services which present a series of potential hazards to conservation work:

  • Overhead Services. In addition to telephone wires, there are many overhead power cables. Care must be taken to identify these before the start of pruning work or tree felling.
  • Underground Services. Mainly running along roadsides, there are many LV and HV power cables, water pipes, gas mains and telephone cables. Whenever possible the following precautions are to be taken;
  • Obtain maps and other data from the service providers.
  • Carry out a Cat scan before any digging commences. EBC will often provide this help.
  • In all cases, dig with the greatest possible care.


29. Bonfires. FOPHC will not implement bonfires on work days for which it is responsible. If bonfires are used on local authority projects it is they that are responsible for safety aspects. FOPHC team leader will satisfy himself as to the safety of volunteers, calling to attention any hazards or unsafe practices.

Hazardous Substances

30. FOPHC is aware of the need to control hazardous both for the good the environment and the health of individuals. The Group has a copy of HSEs leaflet “COSHH: A Brief Guide to the Regulations.”

31. All chemical weed control will be carried out by licences contractors only.

Tools and Equipment

32. The wide range of conservation tasks undertaken by BCG necessitates use of a range of common hand and mechanical or electrical tools. Chain saws are specifically excluded under the terms of the group’s insurance.

33. Project Managers and Team Leaders are to ensure that any tools used are within the competence of team members on the day and are to brief them on their use and the risks associated with them. In doing this leaders need to be aware that there is a wide spread of competence in BCG. Particular attention needs to be paid to new members.

34. Tools are mainly obtained from FOPHC’s own stock or by borrowing from local authorities or conservation bodies. Occasionally members may be asked to bring their own gardening type tools. On occasions where specialist tools (such as power tools) are required, appropriate arrangements will be made with qualified practitioners.

35. Annex E summarises handling and safety points about FOPHC’s commonly used tools. Further details are to be found in BTCV publication “Hand Tools — A guide for safe use and care.”


36. Members are advised in the calling notice for work sessions of any particular clothing requirements e.g. Stout footwear and gardening type gloves are advised for most group tasks:

The calling notice also invites members to “dress for the weather expected on the day.”

37. FOPHC will provide yellow Hi-viz jackets to be worn at most work sessions. It will also provide special protective items, such as hard hats and goggles, when these are required.

First Aid

38. Every effort will be made to provide first aid cover for all FOPHC work sessions. Whenever possible this should be provided by a trained First Aider as part of the team. When this is not possible, cover will be through a trained First Aider on call.

39. It is FOPHC intention to always have a pool of First Aiders trained up-to-date who have attended, as a minimum, a one-day course delivered by St John’s Ambulance. The Red Cross or other recognised body. Current practice is that these courses are valid for three years after which the first aider requires a short refresher.


40. One First Aid Satchel is available for use. It is the responsibility of a nominated First Aider to ensure the contents of First Aid Satchel are complete and in-date.

41. Any incidents are to be recorded by Team Leaders and assessed by the FOPHC committee. In this context it is mandatory to report deaths and major injuries, over 3 day injuries, certain diseases and certain dangerous occurrences. Reporting is to the HSE Contact Centre 0845 3009923. BE SPECIFIC

42. The FOPHC Accident Report Book is kept with the First Aid Satchel to be held by the Health and Safety officer.


43. It is the Group’s policy to progressively improve its skills by taking advantage of training courses available through BTCV, Hampshire Wildlife Trust.

Attitude to Non-Adult Volunteers

44. This is a vexed issue because of conflict between a desire to involve young people in conservation work for educational and community reasons. And the regulations governing their involvement.

45. FOPHC welcomes young people taking part but will always insist that they are accompanied by a responsible adult who accepts responsibility for them.

46. When the Group works with school children, youth group (Guides) it is the responsibility of the teachers / group leaders to apply and supervise all appropriate safety precautions. Exact demarcations are to be clearly discussed and agreed beforehand between the responsible teacher and the FOPHC team leader. FOPHC will not ask children to undertake dangerous tasks or give them bladed tools to use.

Attitude to Pregnant Women

47. Volunteers who are pregnant sometimes like to continue with their community work. The onus is entirely on them. However BCG will insist that they only undertake very light tasks with their feet firmly on flat ground.


48. BCG has standard insurance cover with Zurich Municipal provided through BTCV. The purpose of this is to provide:

  • · Public Liability cover up to £5m
  • · Personal Accident cover for members of the group.

49. The benefits, terms and conditions are given on the BTCV website.

50. It is the task of the FOPHC Health and Safety Officer to ensure that this cover is always in place, to adjust cover should this be necessary and to negotiate non-standard terms with BTCV should these be required.



A Health and Safety Guidance for Individuals

B Sample Warning Letter to Residents

C Task and Attendance Sheet

D FOPHC Risk Assessment form

E Task Leaders check list

F Summary of Safe Use and Care of Hand Tools



Friends of Priors Hill Copse

Health and Safety Guidance for Individuals

By joining this group you are able to take part in worthwhile conservation tasks and preserve Priors Hill copse for future generations. We endeavour to make the work enjoyable within a friendly and relax atmosphere, every effort is made to ensure the safety of members and others who may be associated with or affected by the work. Establishing this safe working environment is not only common sense, it is a legal requirement on volunteer groups such as ours and you have your part to play in achieving it.

Under the law, individuals have a primary “duty of care” to themselves. This means that, while working with the Group you should:

Be satisfied that you are fit enough to participate. Someone with a serious medical condition or chronic back problems, for example, would be best advised to restrict their activities.

Not undertake tasks for which you are unsuited or for which you have no experience. This might apply, for example, to heavy lifting, prolonged physical activity or use of tools with which you are unfamiliar. During most work sessions there are a variety of tasks thus catering for a range of experience and physical strength.

You also have a responsibility to the team not to put other volunteers or members of the public in danger. Therefore:

Be clear on what it is you are being asked to do and understand any risks involved. This means listening carefully to the briefing by the team leader at the start of each session and asking questions at any point if anything is unclear.

Be dressed appropriately for the weather conditions on the day including boots or stout shoes and gardening style gloves. Special requirements (e.g. Wellington boots) will be notified in the calling notice for the session. Any other protective equipment such as goggles or hard hats will be provided when considered necessary.

Do not undertake unauthorised tasks. If in doubt ask the team leader.

Be conscious that there are some minor risks attaching to conservation work, just as there are to gardening e.g., some plants have poisonous elements. Please make sure your tetanus injection is up to date and that any cuts and grazes are covered.

Be aware of the arrangements for first aid. There will always be a first aid kit available and, on most occasions, a first aider present. Mobile phones will be available for administrative and emergency purposes.

Full details of the commitment of the Group to your safety are embodied in its Health and Safety Policy.



Sample Warning Letter to Residents



Dear Resident

Friends of Priors Hill Copse are a local volunteer group formed to look after the copse. It has the full support of the Parish Council and Eastleigh Borough Council. The group will be working in the copse though out the year carrying out various tasks for the benefit of the copse.

Should you have any concerns about the activities please contact Hound Parish Council: Sue Hobbs (parish clerk) 02380453732 or Dick Walters team Leader 07118821113.

If you would like to know more about the group or would like to help please contact Dick Walters: or 07118821113.

Thank you for your assistance and support.





Please read the following and sign to say you have read and understood this:

I have read or been given instructions on safe tool use and health and safety on this activity. I agree to follow the leaders’ instructions and inform them of any medical condition that might put me at risk when undertaking physical activity.

Date: Location:
Task Details:
Partner Organisations:
Leader 1:
Volunteer Name Signature





Priors Hill copse Butlocks Heath



February 2009



D Walters


Tree Planting


February 2010



Potential for harm

Who’s at risk?

How might be harmed

Risk level


To reduce risk level

General Safety

Hedgerow clearing


Tree Planting

All: particularly elderly


All: particularly elderly and pregnant women.

Muscle strains, foot injuries.

Electric shock

Soil borne infections.  Cuts and scratches.




See general site safety assessment

Safe use in tools training in particular fork, spades and grub axes.

Stout footwear to be worn.

Safe manual handling to be implied.

Contact land owner to check for underground services.

Gloves to be worn, long sleeves and trousers to be worn

Wash hands before eating, drinking and smoking.

Kneeling protection to be used.

Personal Protective

Equipment Needed





Provided By


Level of First provision


One day trained

First Aiders



Bernie Stirzaker

Nearest Telephone


Hound Parish Council/ Team Leader mobile


Nearest 24 hour Hospital and/or Doctor


Southampton General Hospital




Summary of Safe Use and Care of Hand Tools

General. When briefing on tools, cover

• Name of tool
• Uses and what used for
• How to check it is safe to use
• How to use safely
• How to carry
• How to leave it
• Safety equipment to be used with it

1. Bow Saws

• Right size saw for job
• Hold at lever end with sawing hand and keep other hand clear of blade. Saw blades can jump
• Wear gloves
• Carry by side, blade down
• Safety helmet when felling trees
• Check for overhead services
• Let saw do the work

2. Billhook

• Keep blades sharp (prevents bouncing)
• Handle needs to be secure
• Never a glove on the hand holding the tool
• Clear working area (don’t get tangled)
• Safe working distance (2 x length of arm + tool)
• Carry at point of balance (don’t swing and walk)
• Never lift double edged blade towards or over your head

3. Picks and Mattocks

• Wear safety boots
• Wear safety goggles on stony ground
• Never wear a glove with wooden handled swinging tool
• Blade must be secure at all times
• Haft should be at least 3 cm proud
• Haft should be in good repair (no cracks or splits)
• Safe working distance 2 x length of arm + tool

4. Slasher

• Never wear a glove with wooden handled swinging tool
• Keep blade sharp



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• Safe working distance = at least 5 metres
• Make sure handle is in good repair
• Do not approach slasher user call out instead
• Carry by side at point of balance, blade down

5. Spades and Forks

• Digging over 30cm — check for underground utilities
• Wear strong footwear
• Position feet carefully to avoid cutting or stabbing them
• Carry at side point of balance
• Use heel or ball of foot when digging to avoid damaging the arch
• Press — don’t kick
• Ensure handle is secure
• Lay tools flat on ground, blade/prongs down

6. Shuv Holer

• Digging over 30cm — check for underground utilities
• Keep head well clear of handles
• Carry at side point of balance
• Bend knees — keep back straight

7. Post Driver

• Always wear safety helmet
• Do not support by hand — keep hands clear
• When lifting or lowering, bend knees, back straight
• Do not lift tool past post top during use
• Should be carried between 2 people by their sides
• Needs 2 people to operate

8. Loppers

• Very safe tools compared with slashes
• Be careful of branches and debris falling on face or in the eyes
• Do not exceed cutting capacity (approx 2-3 cm — thickness of a thumb!)