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Introduction to this document

Safety briefing - working in, near or over water

Working around open water carries the risk of drowning and more subtle dangers too. Ensure that your staff are prepared by adapting and delivering our safety briefing.

The risk

As our Safety Briefing - Working In, Near or Over Water explains, there are many hazards associated with working near watercourses, ponds, reservoirs and other water bodies. As well as a risk of drowning there are associated risks of “slips, trips and falls”, “infection”, causing “pollution” and even, “glare from reflected sunlight”.

If using heavy vehicles close to water, the banks may collapse. Structures can destabilise due to the power of water undermining the foundations.

How to use our document

Our briefing is designed to cover the main concerns affecting staff when they work in or close to water. You can change and adapt it to suit your circumstances and to reflect the outcome of your risk assessments. You might want to provide the briefing as part of a health and safety induction, or to reinforce your safety rules periodically. For example, if there has been an accident or near miss it would be a good time to remind workers of the risks and expectations.

You’ll need to support this brief instruction session with more detailed training where needed, e.g. in the correct use of equipment.

Note. Many of the precautions listed are based on good practices established in the water industry and other organisations which work around water, rather than being from published guidance. This means that the contents are not compulsory, but they represent a good place to start when deciding on your safety procedures.