Field Hazard List



  1. Accidents: all accidents (and relevant near misses) should be reported to the field manager and/or a committee member who will log the details and provide advice and/or assistance.
  2. Anaphylaxis: this is life threatening for some people – Members who suffer from severe Anaphylaxis should keep an Epi Pen or Allerject plus instructions in their shed, and advise other members of their condition and what to do in an emergency, also keep a mobile phone with them at all times.
  3. Bonfires: do not light any bonfires before 4.00pm. Check your bonfire for wildlife before lighting it. The Environmental Protection Act (1990) prohibits a statutory nuisance being caused by smoke – consider what you are going to burn – wet/damp materials will produce thick smoke which may drift onto occupied neighbouring plots and adjacent roads and areas open to the general public causing a nuisance. Check weather conditions to ensure that there is not significant wind, do not leave a fire unattended and ensure that it is completely put out with water before you leave the field.
  4. Canes: where the top of the cane is less than 7 feet from the ground it must have a cane cap.
  5. Chemicals & Pesticides: all chemicals and pesticides must be stored in members sheds and must not be decanted into other containers i.e. jam jars, etc.
  6. Children: Allotments can be dangerous places and all children under the age of 16 must be supervised by their parents at all times! They should not be allowed to run all over the field and other members plots where they could suffer possible injury.
  7. Corrugated Iron: sheets of corrugated iron must not be stood on end unless they have 2 inch thick wood fixed to both sides of the exposed edge.
  8. Drainage Ditches: as per the Rules Of Tenancy it is the members responsibility to keep drainage ditches clear.
  9. Dogs: please keep your dog on a lead and pick up any faeces. One gram of dog waste contains 23 million fecal coliform bacteria which can cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness and kidney disorders in humans and toxicariasis in children which can lead to partial or total blindness – please PICK IT UP AND TAKE IT HOME!
  10. Excavations: all excavations shall be robustly segregated and clearly marked with construction industry-type warning signage. The nature of and activities undertaken on allotments means that ditches, holes and changes in levels could be present in various locations on the allotment fields – members must take care to check areas that they walk on, especially, for example, in waterlogged, long or overgrown vegetation.
  11. First Aid Kit: a first aid kit is a wise addition to the tools kept in the garden shed. A small selection of adhesive plasters, antiseptic ointment, a pair of tweezers for removing thorns and splinters and a gauze or lint pad to use as a compress to stop the bleeding if you are badly cut.
  12. Glass: all glass must be stored in members sheds and broken glass must be removed from the field by the member – not thrown into the boundary hedge!
  13. Hedges: many of the fields’ boundary hedges are dying because of rubbish being dumped in them (part of a car was recently found buried in a hedge!). Hedges must be maintained as per the Rules Of Tenancy and not turned into dumping grounds for rubbish from home or detritus from the allotment.
  14. Legionella: in very hot weather, especially in greenhouses, it is possible, although very rare, for Legionella (Legionnaires’ Disease) to multiply in warm water to potentially harmful levels. Avoid storing potting media in greenhouses or spraying fine mists from containers that have stored water that has been warmed up.
  15. Metal Posts: all metal posts where the top of the post is less than 7 feet from the ground must have a cap of some sort i.e. a tennis ball.
  16. Needles and Syringes: contact the field manager and/or a committee member in the unlikely event of finding any drug-related paraphernalia.
  17. Paths and Communal Areas: the upkeep of the path to the right hand side of all plots when standing at the bottom of the plot looking up at it is the responsibility of the member. Paths may not be removed or changed in any way. The upkeep of Communal areas i.e. tracks and sitting areas are the responsibility of all members. Trip hazards must be removed and all paths kept in a good state of repair.
  18. Personal Safety: allotment gardeners often spend long periods of time on their own on site. You are encouraged to take personal safety seriously and to always tell another person where you are going and what time you will be expected back. Next of kin contact details will be requested to hold on plot holder agreements in case a plot holder becomes ill whilst on site. Be aware of weather conditions that can affect walking surfaces such as hardcore or grass. Use sunscreen to protect you from over exposure to the sun.
  19. Pesticides and Fertilisers: pesticides are chemicals deliberately made to be toxic and introduced to the environment. They include weed killers, rat poisons, fungicides and soil sterilisers. Plot holders have a duty of care to store, use and dispose of them properly. Anyone who sells, supplies, stores or uses a pesticide must take all reasonable precautions to protect the health of humans, creatures and plants, safeguard the environment and avoid the pollution of water. Pesticides should be stored well out of the reach of children and locked away. Do not store fertilisers within 10 metres of a water course or field drain to avoid nitrate leaching. Always read the label and apply as directed. Choose a safe place to mix any solution such as a level path well away from drains and water courses. Spray when there is little or no wind to avoid spray drifting onto other areas. Do not leave products or spaying equipment lying around the plot when applying the product. Wear suitable protective clothing when using pesticides or fertilisers.
  20. Petrol/Paraffin: neither may be stored on the allotment field – only petrol left in the machine after use may be kept on the field. Spillages should be cleaned up immediately. Wear disposable gloves and use sand, cat litter or a proprietary oil absorbent.
  21. Physical Exercise: digging soil is one of the most physically demanding tasks in gardening as it involves continued bending and straightening of the back when lifting a spade of soil. It needs to be approached with care, particularly if you are not used to heavy work. Sensible shoes are essential to save you from a forked foot or worse.
  22. Ponds: all wildlife ponds over 2 feet deep must have a well maintained fence around them. The people most at risk of drowning in ponds are children under the age of three. Children should be supervised on allotments at all times and especially near water. Aim to make ponds shallow and seasonal; 30-50cm at the deepest point is sufficient for biodiversity and sloping sides also prevent drowning of mammals that come to drink water. In winter use a float to prevent icing-over, otherwise children may be tempted to walk on ice and pond-life will be starved of oxygen.
  23. Power Tools:       most power tools need specific safety and handling training e.g. chainsaws, strimmers, lawn mowers with metal blades and rotovators. A large rotovator can be a bit of a strain to control, so take a while to get used to it. Strimmers and shredders can also be dangerous if used incorrectly. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions. It is recommended that members wear appropriate personal protective equipment including for example thick gloves, safety goggles, ear defenders and steel toe capped boots when using power tools. Statutory chain mail clothing is recommended for anyone using a chainsaw.
  24. Rats: rats are an environmental health hazard and can carry 70 different diseases including Weil’s Disease which can cause human death via contaminated water. Members who keep chickens are expected to keep the population of rats down. There is new legislation regarding rat poison and it will soon be illegal to put down rat bait, please seek advice from the Secretary who will give you a contact number for someone who will deal with the problem. Failure to deal with the problem will result in the association dealing with the problem and billing the member. Plot holders should report any signs of infestation which includes burrows, tracks, droppings and sightings to the field manager and/or a member of the committee.
  25. Risk of Infection: Humans are at risk of infection from handling animal manure. Always wear gloves when handling any type of manure. Fresh manure should be heaped for 6 months giving time for e-coli bacteria to break down. Plot holders are reminded of basic hygiene and to check that tetanus boosters are up to date Tetanus (or lockjaw) is a serious infection caused by bacterium that lives in the soil and especially manured soil. It enters the body through the tiniest abrasion, scratch, thorn, puncture or cut and a few days or weeks later the illness hits. Please make sure that you have a vaccination that can protect you against tetanus (boosters are required every ten years). Stopping for a lunch break helps restore energy after lots of digging but don’t forget to wash your hands first. Keep a hand-sterilising gel handy or in the shed. Always wash your fruit or vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
  26. Rubbish: rubbish must not be brought from home and dumped on the field. It can be hazardous to other members and the cost of any skip required to remove this rubbish in the future will be added to the rent for that field’s members alone (a skip currently costs in excess of £300).
  27. Security: all field’s main gates should be locked at dusk. Return all gate keys to the field manager and/or a committee member if relinquishing a plot. Keys are available for purchase from the Field Manager. The plot holder has responsibility for the security of their property – do not keep valuable items on the allotment. Tools should be locked away in a secure container. Plot holders should report evidence of vandalism, intruders, illegal entry, theft, etc. to their field manager and/or a committee member.
  28. Skin Irritations: wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when pruning plants that can cause skin irritations e.g. ivy, euphorbia or rue.
  29. Strimmers/Rotovators/Mowers/Power Tools: members are responsible for the maintenance of their equipment to ensure they are both safe and fit for purpose.
  30. Strimming: members should not strim until there is a distance of several plots between them and the next member on the field and should not strim unless they wear goggles and ear defenders or a helmet with ear defenders – steel toe capped boots are recommended. Before strimming warn all members in the vicinity and be aware of where members are. Note: stones can fly as far as 50 metres if flicked up by a strimmer.
  31. Tetanus: anyone who works with the soil is advised that their Tetanus jabs are up to date.
  32. Tools: tools can be a hazard if left lying around on the field – members must put their tools away before leaving the field.
  33. Vehicles: members who drive their vehicle onto the allotment field are expected to take care and drive slowly, stones flicked up by passing vehicles can blind someone bending over on their plot. A 5 MPH speed limit is recommended. Members owning small tractors form use on their plot must provide proof of insurance to the Secretary every year and must take adequate precautions regarding safety when moving the tractor around the field.
  34. Water Butts: all water butts must have lids. Keep water containers and butts high enough to be out of the reach of young children. Keep containers free of debris and covered where possible. Discard stagnant water as it poses a health risk and is not beneficial to plants.

This Health & Safety Hazard List was prepared and issued by the Management Committee of the Newton Abbot & District Co-operative Allotment Association Ltd.

Date: 20th October 2014