Health and Safety
All HCV tasks have a volunteer leader assigned. The task leader will have had extensive experience as an ordinary volunteer. Leaders have either been on a BTCV leadership training course or have been trained by a leader who has attended such a course. The leader gives a team talk at the start of the task on tool safety, safe working methods, and general site safety. The leader is responsible monitoring the rest of the team during the day, and repeating the safety talk to any latecomers.
All volunteers are recommended to have a current tetanus vaccination.
Volunteers are advised to bring sun-screen and maybe a wide-brimmed hat (even in winter).
Volunteers are warned about leptospirosis (Weil's disease) when working in or near water.
Standard equipment on task includes a container of drinking water, and a tea box with hand washing supplies.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
All volunteers are asked to attend in appropriate clothing and stout footwear - ideally steel toe-capped work boots if available.
Standard equipment on task is a glove bag with a range of appropriate types of gloves plus goggles. When felling trees over 3m in height HCV provides hard hats. HCV has waders and pond gloves when required for pond work.
A first aid box is always carried on task. Most leaders and regular volunteers have attended a one day emergency first aid course - several have attended refresher courses every 3 years several times now. There will always at least one person with this first aid training on task.
When working close to public paths, warning signs are placed on approaches to the work area.
On the occasions when petrol driven power tools or electric woodworking power tools are used only responsible and trained volunteers are permitted to use them. HCV provides ear defenders, goggles, and face mask as appropriate to the machine.
In compliance with HCV's insurance through BTCV, any chainsaw operator must have a BTCV chainsaw operator's card - this is obtained on production of the relevant NPTC certificate. HCV can provide a chainsaw helmet. The Chainsaw operator will bring his own chainsaw trousers and boots and gloves.
An initial view of risks is taken at group planning meetings as to whether any particular proposed task is within the scope of what volunteers are capable of given the experience of the group. The task leader for the day is responsible for selecting the tools and PPE to bring, and for assessing any particular issues on site.
Written risk assessments
As regards formal written risk assessment, the group has a copy of the BTCV Generic Risk Assessments for practical conservation tasks and several group members have been trained in risk assessment. The group also has access to the set of BTCV conservation handbooks. HCV has a computerised system for producing tailored written risk assessments and is prepared to provide one if requested.
[By way of explanation, legally volunteers are not directly covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act, only indirectly by the volunteer user-body's or the landowner's duty towards members of the public when that user or landowner is themselves covered by the H&SW Act, and so risk assessment is strictly speaking a responsibility of that user or landowner.]
Written risk assessment does not of itself guarantee safe working - training is more important.
The best way of ensuring safety of volunteers is the way the group fosters an attitude of careful steadily paced work with care and consideration for others in a cooperative environment - something much easier to do with volunteers than with paid workers.
Protection for Children and Vulnerable Adults
HCV is an organisation primarily for ordinary adults. Neither volunteers nor task leaders are required by the organisation to be CRB checked. Volunteers between 16 and 18 years old may attend on their own provided a parent or guardian has signed a consent form – please contact the
HCV, as an entirely voluntary organisation with no paid staff, does not have the capacity to involve unaccompanied children under 16 or unaccompanied adults deemed vulnerable. Children under 16 and vulnerable adults must be accompanied by an adult/carer who must be responsible for them at all times.
The following is the currently adopted imported equal opportunities policy.
This organisation aims to ensure that an equal opportunity policy is adopted and operating. Therefore, we will aim to treat all members equally regardless of marital status, gender, sexuality, disability, age, race or nationality.
All members have a legal and moral obligation not to discriminate and to report incidents of discrimination against any individual or group of individuals. Any member found to be discriminating would face disciplinary proceedings.
The group will reimburse any reasonable small direct expenses incurred on behalf of the group, e.g. tea, coffee, milk, postage, replacement saw blades, etc. Larger items must be approved by the committee.
Task leaders or volunteers who bring the tools or other volunteers to a task
can claim mileage costs from the group
in line with HMRC Approved Mileage Allowance Payments as follows:
40p per mile for the first 10,000 miles in the tax year,
25p per mile thereafter.
(The 10,000 miles limit is now separate from mileage claimed in other contexts.)
Regrettably the group does not have the resourses to pay travelling costs to tasks for individual volunteers.
While the group provides necessary PPE,
and occasionally with grant funding can pay for wellingtons, overtrousers, fleeces for regular volunteers,
in general the group does not have the resources to provide boots or wet weather gear for individual volunteers.
If funds permit, and provided prior approval is obtained from the committee, volunteers may claim reimbursement for course fees and travel costs for attending relevant external conservation training events, e.g. organised by BTCV.