How the recent storms might affect you
Flooding of Public Amenity Areas
The recent storms have resulted in many public amenity sites, including parks and sports grounds being flooded, leaving heavy deposits of potentially contaminated silt, and worse!
As part of preparing for the inevitable cleanup operation it may be necessary to take particular care when handling these deposits. The floodwaters are likely to be contaminated with raw sewerage and possibly also decomposing dead animals. Unprotected persons (including the public) could be exposed to risks of infection by Legionella, Tetanus and other diseases.
We recommend an early inspection of the site, together with seeking advice from the local office of the Environment Agency. Early actions might include posting health warning notices and erecting barriers where appropriate.
Risk assessments under the COSHH Regulations (Biological hazards) could be needed that might require additional personal protection; it may also be necessary to seek expert advice (e.g. Your health and safety advisor, or the local Environmental Health Department) on the correct, and safe, removal and disposal of dead animals and other dangerous waste.
Storm Damage and Tree Safety:
The unusually early storms brought high winds that caused considerable damage to trees across the country. Despite the very high standards of tree care at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew a branch fell from a tree causing fatal injuries to a visitor. Following several similar tragedies, the Health and Safety Executive issued guidelines for enforcement officers (HSE SIM 01/2007/05 Tree Safety) giving guidance on an acceptable standard for the risk management of trees.
In the Introduction it states
“Each year between 5 and 6 people in the UK are killed when trees fall on them. Thus the risk of being struck and killed by a tree falling is extremely low. Around 3 people are killed each year by trees in public spaces; but as almost the entire population of the UK is exposed, the risk per person is about one in 20 million.”
Whilst it is undeniably true that risks of accidents involving trees are low, it must not be forgotten that HSE has set standards for landowners for the risk management of trees. If you have trees on your site you must ensure that this aspect is included in your safety management system and your emergency plan.
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