All activities carry an element of risk, and allotment gardening is no exception. Everyone must take health and safety seriously, but it is also important not to become ‘litigation paranoid.’ Good gardening is safe gardening, and many risks to ourselves and others can be easily prevented.

Our Obligations

Under civil law, and as set out in the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 & 1984, all plot-holders have a duty of care to anyone accessing their plot and the pathways for which they are responsible. This includes both authorised and unauthorised visitors. As an association, we have a communal duty to ensure that common areas, such as the primary access paths, are safe. The law requires that we exercise at least a ‘reasonable’ level of care regarding safety. Although unlikely, a claim could be made for negligence when an individual suffered an injury because we didn’t take reasonable precautions. In English law, excluding liability, for example, through a notice is impossible. We must also comply with other laws, such as environmental and wildlife protection.

Our Policy

Our Health & Safety Policy, although summarised in this document, is implemented through our Constitution and rules, email communications, website and introduction to the site by the Allotment Association.

A hazard can cause injury, for example, power tools and exposed sharp edges. Hazards can sometimes be removed but may be inevitable. Risks are the potential threats caused by the hazards, such as injury from a hidden sharp edge or a vehicle accident. Risks can usually be avoided.

Injuries, “near-misses,” and any other safety-related issues must be reported to the Committee so that any existing hazard or risk can be eliminated and prevented.

Here are some safety rules:

  • It is recommended that plot-holders inform someone where they are and their likely return time, particularly at quiet times.
  • Plot-holders should ensure that their plot and associated accesses are free from hazards: hazards may include sharp edges, exposed nails, improperly stored tools, hazards hidden within undergrowth such as discarded tools, and wrongly stored dangerous materials such as those listed below. Please remember that we are legally responsible for the safety of anybody who may enter our plots.
  • Plot-holders must acquaint themselves with and adhere strictly to the guidelines regarding storage, usage and disposal of hazardous materials such as glass, pesticides, fertilisers, asbestos cement, oil, and fuel. These must be securely stored in the proper containers and away from possible reach by children.
  • Plot-holders should acquaint themselves with the safe use and storage of tools, particularly power tools. And where necessary, wear suitable personal protective equipment.
  • Plot-holders should be vigilant for rats, rabbits and other vermin and inform a committee member if vermin evidence is observed.
  • Plot-holders should report vandalism or other evidence of intruders to a member of the Committee for onward reporting to the police.
  • Plot-holders should ensure that the gate is kept closed and locked at all times to prevent the ingress of dogs and the egress of children.
  • Due to the problems caused by the COVID-19 virus, wear gloves when using or operating any communal equipment, including the gate and shed locks, tools, hoses and taps. If necessary, use sanitiser to clean PPE.

Most injuries are easily prevented. Good gardening is safe gardening, and everyone is responsible for ensuring that we garden safely.

Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 –