Site Management and Responsibility

Health and Safety Guidance


This is an overview of health and safety issues to be considered by groups undertaking practical work in parks and green spaces in Torbay. The guidelines provided are designed to enable groups to set up working groups and activities which support the health and safety needs of group members and members of the public using the site.


Torbay Council are committed to the delivery of safe activity in public spaces has the ultimate responsibility for health, safety and fire precautions in all of the activities undertaken under the auspices of the authority.


These guidelines are based upon Torbay Council's Friends Groups Volunteer Safety Policy


No person should be expected to undertake any practical work unless the health and safety of the site, work and equipment meet the standards set out in these guidelines.


All persons undertaking practical work should follow these guidelines and any person who is not prepared to meet these standards should be asked to stop working or leave the site in order to protect the health and safety of themselves, other group members and members of the public.


These guidelines are important for all parties; Torbay Council has statutory duties (under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other regulations) for activities taking place on Torbay Council owned land and groups and individuals undertaking practical work have a common law duty of care to protect the health and safety of themselves and those around them.


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As it can seem difficult to understand who is in charge of a site and the work taking place at any given time, it is important to communicate with the landowner prior to undertaking work. This is important in order to avoid duplication of work as well as ensuring that the relevant health and safety concerns are addressed. For these reasons, you will need to send a notification of any planned activity to Natural Environment Services, via your Green Spaces Project Manager.


Aspects which need to to be considered include:

  • Safe access to site (is any other work planned which will cause difficulty in gaining access to the area in which you need to work?)
  • Have relevant risk assessments been sent to Torbay Council (via your Green Spaces Project Manager)?
  • Does a Torbay Council staff member or contractor need to be present to carry out or oversee a particular type of work?


By notifying Natural Environment Services in plenty of advance notice of your activity, we can support you in identifying any issues and letting you know of any planned activity.


This applies to any planned activity, be it practical conservation, planting or public events which your group wishes to hold in Torbay’s parks and green spaces.



Who is qualified to carry out tasks?


For most of the basic tasks being undertaken there are little or no requirements for formal qualifications except an enthusiasm for the job and a willingness to get stuck in.

The nature of the work being undertaken however does require a degree of competency and it is important to raise awareness of these issues. Torbay Council is committed to raising awareness through guidance and training. There are three basic areas that need to be addressed for each Friends Group as follows:


> Health & Safety

Those with a leadership role such as the Chairman, Appointed H&S Person or Person In Charge on the day needs to understand their and other peoples H&S responsibility as well as communicating the health and safety issues raised in the H&S Plan.


> First Aid

Each work party must have access to a first aid kit and must have mobile phone signal and access to a mobile phone (which is in this signal area) in case of an emergency, in order that accidents may be responded to quickly. Risk Assessments for the site and activity must also outline your fist aid incident response.


> Manual Handling

Manual handling tasks have inherent risks that cause a significant number of injuries and ill health I the UK every year. Simple precautions and supervision by competent people can significantly reduce the risk .

Each Friends Group must ensure that the Appointed H&S Person as well as any designated Person in Charge MUST be trained to undertake lifting tasks safely and to ensure others do the same.

Where the Appointed H&S Person or Person in Charge do not hold certificated training they should receive Manual Handling Training from an approved trainer as soon as practicable after volunteering.



Machinery Use – What you need to do

The following policy is applicable to ALL machinery use in all cases:

  • Under no circumstances are volunteers to use any powered machinery without the written prior authorisation of Torbay Council.
  • To ensure that all machinery operated by volunteers meets the required safety standards and is ‘fit for purpose’ for an identified task it must be checked by Torbay Council prior to use.


These checks will include:

  • The item of machinery being marked as fit for use and a record made of the check together with the scope of operation. This record will be held by Torbay Council and the machine owner.
  • Each machine will be issued with a safety checklist by Torbay Council which is to be completed by the operator prior to each use i.e. a daily record of safety and PPE checks. The checklist will include the type and specification of the PPE to be used.
  • Each machine and safety checklist will be reviewed annually by Torbay Council.
  • Only named volunteers will be authorized to operate specific items of machinery following an assessment of their qualifications, training certification and proficiency by Torbay Council.


The Chairman of the Friends Group together with the designated H&S Appointed Person is responsible for compliance with this policy.

Machinery Use

Machinery such as petrol powered brushcutters (strimmers), petrol driven pedestrian mowers, petrol hedge trimmers, chainsaws and other hand held powered equipment as well as larger complex times such as brushwood chippers or mini excavators pose a range of significant hazards. Many of these machines have specific nationally recognized training and/ or qualifications associated with them, that employees would be obliged to hold before using them in the work place.

Torbay Council are obliged to ensure that all machinery is safe to use, maintained and operated by competent people. Machinery use therefore places a number of difficulties when being operated or supplied by volunteer groups as follows:


  • Firstly that those operating the machines are adequately trained and competent to do so, and;
  • that the machine itself meets the required standards of safety, especially when it is provided by a volunteer and;
  • that the machine remains safe and appropriately maintained during the period of its use.


In many cases machinery purchased for domestic use is not as robust as that designed for commercial use. There is therefore a danger that equipment is damaged during use in these situations. Furthermore the requirements for wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for the machine and task that meet with workplace standards can be both more onerous, expensive and require specialist training.


Therefore any machinery of this nature would generally not be considered appropriate for volunteer use or operation unless the individual group is able to demonstrate that both machine and operator met the requisite nationally accepted standards. This will be assessed on a case by case basis by Torbay Council prior to use.


Electric powered equipment such as hedge trimmers, mowers, strimmers, drills and saws may require less onerous training and certification but nevertheless require careful assessment prior to use by volunteers. Careful consideration needs to be made of the suitability of the item for the planned task and competency of the person operating the machine.

Furthermore cables and other electrical connections MUST be subject to a Portable Appliance Test and careful assessment.

In all cases electrical equipment connected to the mains must have a Circuit Breaker located as close to the source as possible and which MUST be checked prior to use each day.

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Who has responsibility?

Assessing Risk

Sample Risk Assessments