Econet Risk Assessment [Base Document]
Assessment: Pond, stream and wetland work

Scope: Activity [Task]

Assessment Summary: Pond, stream and wetland work;

Pond, stream and wetland work
Last updated: 04/04/2022 18:51:06
Typical uncontrolled outcomes
Drowning; cuts and bruises; Leptospirosis; Hepatitis; ill health; back and other muscle strains; Cercarial dermatitis (swimmer's itch)
Typical groups at risk
Volunteers; other site users; general public
  Insurance considerations
The maximum depth of water in which work occurs must not exceed 2' 6" (75cm).
  • Contact with hand tools
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Deep or fast flowing water
  • Buried or hidden objects
  • Contact with harmful substances
  • Manual handling wet materials
  • Chest waders
  • Contact with rats urine, faeces and other bio-hazards
  • Contact with dead animals, or water polluted by them.
  • Tools: See "General Conservation Activities" risk assessment.
  • Do not work in or above deep or fast flowing water, or in water waist height or deeper.
  • Avoid lone working when working in or next to water.
  • Identify escape routes which must be kept clear at all at all times to ensure volunteers can get out of water quickly and safely.
  • Provide lifebuoy or throwline if appropriate.
  • Waders must be worn in water above welly but below thigh height; chest waders in deeper water but below waist height.
  • Chest waders must only be worn by volunteers who have received instruction in and experience of, their safe use.
  • Wellies should have reinforced soles.
  • Went working in water, movement should be slow and measured. Check for hidden or buried objects, sudden changes in depth and that bottom is stable and will bear volunteer's weight.
  • When working on soft ground check that it will bear volunteer's weight. Use duckboards if available.
  • Sharp or swinging tools must not be used when wet.
  • Volunteers must have a firm stable stance before using tools or handling wet material.
  • Do not overreach when working from bank.
  • Only work at the water's edge if that edge is clearly visible, e.g. is not obscured by vegetation and has not been undermined.
  • Do not work in water contaminated with sewage.
  • Strong waterproof gloves must be worn to handle debris and rubbish from water. In deeper water wear pond gloves to protect arms.
  • Dead animals must not be touched - inform the site owner or manager.
  • Always wash hands or use cleansing wipes or gel before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Advise volunteers that wet material is heavier than its dry counterpart.
  • 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.
  • Store tools and debris away from walkways and banks.

Background Information

Cercarial dermatitis
Swimmer's itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain microscopic parasites. The parasites are occasionally found in pond water and when they come into contact with a person will burrow into the skin. They are destroyed by the body's immune system but this gives rise to an allergic reaction and rash which is intensely itch and lasts for about one week.

This condition has affected volunteers working in the pond at Waterloo Meadows. It can be avoided by preventing skin contact with the pond water by wearing strong waterproof gloves, wellingtons, etc.

Further information can be found at

Last updated: 20/03/2021 11:33:59

Bacterial infection cared by rats, cattle and other animals and passed to humans either by direct contact with the tissues, urine or other secretions of an infected animal, or from water contaminated with infected urine. The infection enters the body through cuts and abrasions and the lining of the eyes and mouth. To avoid infection always cover open wounds and keep from contact with pond and river water. When working in ponds and rivers always wear strong waterproof gloves and wellington or waders.

Symptoms include mild flu-like illness. In its most severe form known as Weil's Disease, it can lead to a number of serious conditions such as jaundice and kidney failure. Symptoms usually develop 7-21 days after initial infection although rarely the incubation period can be as short as two to three days or as long as 30 days. Treatment for the illness is with antibiotics but recovery may take several weeks and in some cases months. If you are concerned you may have contracted this disease you should seek medical assistance immediately, in its most severe form untreated it can result in death.

Further information can be found on the NHS Choices website,

Last updated: 22/03/2021 13:10:45

   Econet's Health and Safety Policy can be found at

   16 February 2024 18:40 T2302164464