Econet Risk Assessment [CRoW (Conserve Reading on Wednesdays)]
Date: Wednesday, 22nd January 2020  (10:00 - 15:00)
Task: Scrub clearance

Site: Padworth Common
Site Manager: BBOWT    Site Contact: Simon Barnett (01635) 32 071 or 07880 788 566
Meeting Point: Car Park, Rectory Road    Nearest Postcode: RG7 4JB    Map Ref: SU620648 (
Directions: Car park is off Rectory Road near junction with Baughurst Road and Reading Road

Royal Berkshire Hospital (10.6m)
London Road, Reading, RG1 5AN Telephone: (0118) 322 5111

Minor Injury Unit:
West Berkshire Community Hospital (9.7m)
London Road, Benham Hill, Thatcham, RG18 3AS Telephone: (01635) 273 300

Hazard: Parts of the common are deeply rutted especially on the south side, with the ruts often concealled by grass and heather.

See also BBOWT Site Risk Assessment.

Volunteer's Tools: Volunteers bring their own tools which must be fit for purpose, at their own risk. The Group cannot accept any responsibility for a volunteer's own tools unless by prior agreement.

Volunteer's Dogs: Dogs should only be brought to sites where they will not disturb wildlife and other livestock and where it is acceptable to the management and other users of the site. Dogs are brought at the owner's own risk, the group cannot accept any responsibility for their wellbeing.

Assessment Summary: General Conservation Activities; Public open space; Road crossings; Coppicing, felling & scrub clearance; Bonfires; Use of Chemicals;

General Conservation Activities
Last updated: 13/04/2018 14:34:36
Typical uncontrolled outcomes
Minor cuts and bruises; burns; lower back pain; verbal abuse; electric shock; contracting disease; blisters; sunburn; Lyme Disease
Typical groups at risk
Volunteers; general public
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Contact with hand tools
  • Manual handling
  • Contact with services
  • Contact with traffic
  • Volunteer's dogs
  • Contact with micro organisms
  • Irritant or poisonous plants
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Weather conditions
  • Keep site and materials tidy.
  • Make safe trip hazards highlighting any where this is not possible.
  • Tools (including volunteer's own) should be in good state of repair and fit for purpose.
  • Where possible tools being transported should be contained within tool bag(s) with blades guarded.
  • Give tools talk at start of task to impart and reinforce knowledge. (Volunteers should know name, purpose and correct manner of use of tools, including carrying techniques, storage, safe working distances and applicable protective clothing.)
  • Set aside damaged or blunt tools for maintenance or to be discarded.
  • Sturdy footwear should be worn.
  • Swinging tools should not be used with gloves (at least not on the hand gripping the tool) or in wet conditions; observe safe working distances.
  • Regularly check that safe working distances are being observed.
  • Tools not in use should be stored in tool bag or laid on ground in clear view where not a trip hazard.
  • Demonstrate safe lifting and handling techniques.
  • If available, use wheelbarrows and other handling aids to move heavier items.
  • Ensure routes for transporting tools and materials are kept clear.
  • Check for services as part of site inspection, mark and avoid. Avoid felling near overhead services. Pole saws must not be used within 15m of overhead electricity cables and power lines. Where underground services suspected, use hand tools for digging within 1m of line, do not use crowbars.
  • Unload vehicles away from traffic. Use tape, warning signs or cones where appropriate. Post lookouts to slow traffic whilst vehicles are manoeuvring.
  • Park vehicles to enable quick access and departure in emergency, and to allow access by emergency services.
  • Protect any cuts, advise all volunteers to ensure tetanus inoculation. Avoid contact with stream and pond water. Wear gloves when handling soil.
  • Warn of possible presence of irritant plants. Wear gloves and long sleeves when working with or near irritant plants; wash exposed skin thoroughly after work.
  • Wear long sleeves if biting insects may be present, use insect repellent. If wasp or bees' nest found, highlight and stop working in immediate vicinity.
  • Provide information about ticks and Lyme disease including symptoms. Advise volunteers to wear boots, long trousers and tops with sleeves to avoid ticks, tuck trousers into socks, and after task to check for ticks and bites and to seek immediate medical advise if they have concerns. Note: Although most common from late spring until autumn, tick bites can occur at any time of the year whenever the conditions exist for ticks to be active.
  • In hot or sunny conditions, keep skin covered and use high factor sun cream on exposed skin; stop work if volunteers ill attired for conditions, in discomfort or the work is increasing in risk.
  • Always wash hands or use cleansing wipes or gel before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Dogs brought by volunteers to tasks must be well behaved and under the control of their owner at all times, they must not put volunteers or others at risk by causing a distraction or otherwise disrupting the task.
Public open space
Last updated:
Typical uncontrolled outcomes
Stress, distress, minor cuts and bruises, sickness
Typical groups at risk
Volunteers, general public
  • Contact with public
  • Abuse or aggression from public
  • Discarded sharps
  • Uncontrolled dogs
  • Dog faeces
  • If available, place warning signs at approaches to work area.
  • Keep paths clear of tools and debris.
  • Avoid volunteers working in isolation.
  • If confronted be conciliatory, avoid aggravating situation; be prepared to walk away.
  • If sharps found, do not touch or move, highlight location and advise site owner or manager.
  • Warn volunteers of possibility of dogs causing a distraction by entering the work area.
  • Warn volunteers of likely presence of dog faeces.
  • If practical, remove dog faeces from work areas using bags or burying where unlikely to be disturbed. Avoid skin contact.
Road crossings
Last updated:
Typical uncontrolled outcomes
Serious injury; death
Typical groups at risk
Volunteers; general public
  • Contact with traffic
  • Advise volunteers of fast moving traffic.
  • Ensure tools are carried correctly.
  • Ensure the carrying of tools does not impair the progress of either the carrier or others.
Coppicing, felling & scrub clearance
Last updated: 24/09/2017 13:57:04
Typical uncontrolled outcomes
Slips and trips; strained muscles; scratches to face and head; inflammation of joints; puncture wounds; cuts and lacerations; blood borne infections
Typical groups at risk
Volunteers; other site users; general public
  Insurance considerations
Econet's insurance does not cover the use of chain saws.

The following statement has been made to Econet's insurer's regarding tree felling: "We occasionally fell trees with trunks over 15cm diameter, maximum in the region of 18 - 20cm. Maximum height of tree felled would be in the region of 10 - 12m. [but such trees would generally of smaller girth]." No task should be undertaken which contravenes this statement. Note: A diameter of 20cm (8in) equates to a girth of 63cm (25in).
  • Contact with hand tools
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Eye injuries
  • Falling debris and branches
  • Unexpected movement when cutting timber under tension/compression
  • Thorns
  • Presence of man-made detritus, e.g. broken bottles, barbed wire
  • Repetitive movements
  • Blackthorn injuries
  • Tools: See "General Conservation Activities" risk assessment
  • Slips, trips and falls: See "General Conservation Activities" risk assessment
  • Wear goggles to prevent eye injuries from protruding branches and branches under tension.
  • Demonstrate felling techniques emphasising importance of maintaining clear escape route and the meaning dangers of 'kickback'.
  • Volunteers recommended to wear hard hats.
  • Place warning signs at entry points and ensure visitors are kept away from main work area.
  • Check for broken glass, barbed wire, etc. and clear from work area
  • Ensure sufficient space available between volunteers - greater than height of any trees to be felled.
  • Cut back branches and other vegetation to give clear access and good visibility.
  • Check ground for thorns or other sharp objects before kneeling.
  • Clear brash regularly to reduce trip hazards.
  • Wear gloves (preferably hedging gloves) when handling thorny material.
  • Remove the thorns of blackthorn immediately and seek medical attention if wound becomes infected.
  • Take frequent breaks when undertaking heavy or repetitive tasks such as when hammering or using slasher or strimmer, or alternate with other (lighter) task to reduce risk of strains and injuries associated with vibration and repetitive movement.
  • Avoid working near power lines and other overhead cables.
  • If tree caught in overhead cables do not touch, call responsible authority immediately.
  • Pole saws must not be used within 15m of overhead electricity cables and power lines.
Last updated: 03/08/2017 15:53:50
Typical uncontrolled outcomes
Burns (minor and major); grit in eyes; minor cuts and bruises; breathing difficulties; damage to adjacent land and property
Typical groups at risk
Volunteers; other site users; general public; neighbouring property
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Burning embers and flying debris
  • Flammable liquids
  • Smoke obscuring other hazards
  • Spread of fire
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Locate fire site on level ground clearing all trip hazards from the surrounding area.
  • Volunteers near fire should wear long sleeves and trousers to prevent burns from flying ashes.
  • Long hair should be tied back and loose clothing tucked in. Hard hats are recommended.
  • Fire must be sited downwind of main work area, and should not be larger than is required to do the job.
  • Fires must be sited away from roads and buildings.
  • Fires must not be lit in strong winds, on peat soils, in drought conditions, under trees or on any surface likely to catch alight, or near overhead or underground services.
  • Vehicles should be parked at least 50 metres from any fire.
  • Flammables (gas, petrol etc.) must be sited at least 30 metres from any fire.
  • One person must be tending the fire at all times.
  • Load material on to fire at a single point and in a controlled manner.
  • Exclude dangerous items e.g. aerosols, from material to be burnt.
  • Stop work if main work area significantly affected by smoke and insure all volunteers move out of the area.
  • Turn fires in and where possible damp down at end of day.
  • Place warning signs and/or barrier tape around hot embers left on site.
Use of Chemicals
Last updated:
Typical uncontrolled outcomes
Chemical burns; skin irritation; poisoning
Typical groups at risk
  • Contact with chemicals
  • Chemicals (e.g. fertiliser, pesticide, stump treatment, timber preservative, paint) should only be used with the prior consent of the site owner/manager.
  • Chemicals not available to the general public should only be used by volunteers who have received the relevant training or who are working under the direct supervision of someone who has received such training.
  • Chemicals must be applied in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions which must be available.
  • Recommended protective clothing must be worn when applying chemicals, e.g. PVC/rubber gloves, face masks.
Rigger gloves;

Coppicing, felling & scrub clearance: Goggles; Hard hats; Hedging gloves;

Bonfires: Hard hats;

Use of Chemicals: Face masks; PVC/rubber gloves;

Actual items needed may vary according to the task.

Background Information

Lyme Disease
Bacterial infection transmitted from animals to humans by tick bites. Animal hosts include deer, foxes, sheep, squirrels and rodents. Ticks are most active in the early summer and autumn although they may be found at other times. They are often located on tall vegetation in woodlands and heaths from where they can attach themselves to their host. To protect yourself wear long sleeves and long trousers tucked in to your socks. Check for ticks on your return home, if found it should be removed immediately. Removal is best achieved with fine-toothed tweezers, pulling steadily away from the skin.

Only a small minority of tick bites carry Lyme Disease. Symptoms include a red, expanding rash parts of which may clear as it enlarges resulting in a "bull's-eye" appearance. Other symptoms are fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. If you think you may have contacted Lyme Disease please seek medical advise immediate. Treatment is with antibiotics, without treatment a number of serious conditions can arise including a viral-like meningitis, facial palsy, other nerve damage or arthritis.

Further information can be found on the NHS Choices website,

Last updated:

   Econet's Health and Safety Policy can be found in the "About Us" section of our website at

   16 November 2019 22:06 T2001222180