Generic Risk Assessment for Planting Days

Planting days involve volunteers, many of whom do not undertake similar activities often. As such, care needs to be taken that accidents do not occur that could have been prevented by greater familiarity with the event.

Volunteers should make themselves aware of the layout of the land and the location of entrances and exits. They should be aware of any barbed wire fences, and the location of any open water. They need to be aware of other people manoeuvring vehicles while parking at the site, and know of the possibility of uneven ground and holes dug by animals.

All volunteers need to take special care with the canes and stakes used to support the tree protectors. Volunteers will often bend down to plant saplings in the soil, and there is danger of damage to eyes from canes and sticks if people are not vigilant. Children, particularly, need to be frequently reminded. Young children should not be allowed to wave sticks in the air.

There is particular need to watch for trip hazards. Frequently the ground is uneven, grass tufts make it more so and piles of equipment can be hidden until found by shins. For this reason, equipment and loose saplings are kept, as far as possible in one location until used.

Those using spades need to be careful to pace themselves, especially if they do not often use them. Spades require energetic movements and those standing nearby need to remain vigilant.

Since the work area is usually an uncultivated field, all activities take more energy. Frequent breaks, hot drinks and snacks are recommended. Planting season is the cold half of the year, when trees are not growing, so gloves, scarves and hats are also useful. The cold half of the year is also the wetter half, so weatherproofs are also recommended – there is often no shelter in the middle of a field.