All activities carry an element of risk and allotments are no exception. Everyone needs to take health and safety seriously, but it is also very important to approach the issues sensibly and not become paranoid about the possibility of litigation.
Plotholders have a responsibility (duty of care) to anyone on their plot regardless of whether or not they have been given permission to be there. You should act responsibly and comply with any health and safety instructions in the missive of let, and any subsequent information given by the Committee.
Health and safety only becomes unmanageable when responsibilities are neglected.
The Committee should ensure that the allotment site is free from hazards at the time of leasing to a new plotholder. New plotholders should be advised about any ongoing health and safety risks or hazards on the allotment site at the time of taking on their plot.
If you are not sure of your own health and safety responsibilities as a plotholder ask a Committee Member. It is good practice to welcome inquiries from plotholders about health and safety.
How to report hazards and concerns
Plotholders should report concerns about health and safety on their plot, or site, to the association committee or as soon as they occur. It is good practice to have a reporting system for plotholders with a list of Committee Office Bearers on the notice board for that purpose. You should let any visitors to your plot know about any ongoing health and safety issues that you are aware of.
Allotment gardeners often spend long periods of time alone on their plot, so it’s a good idea to let someone know where you are and when you will return home. Contact your local police for information about personal safety and crime prevention.
Most of the time allotments are havens of peace in an otherwise busy world, where Plotholders put in many hours of work. Any damage to perimeter fences, gates or hedging should be reported timeously to a Committee Member so repairs can be arranged. Plotholders should always report instances of vandalism or theft to the Police and obtain an incident number, as well as informing the association committee of the incident.
Reducing chemical use
You can help the environment by minimising the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers and promoting non-polluting materials. Organic gardening, without the use of artificial products is an effective way of cutting down on chemicals. There are organisations that can give advice and help you with the practicalities of doing this.
Disposal of Chemicals
Plotholders who use chemicals have a duty of care to store, use and dispose of them safely. This includes weed killers, rat poisons, fungicides and soil sterilants etc. They should never be decanted into another container or brought into the UK from abroad. They should always be stored well out of reach of children and locked away. Plotholders should contact their local authority waste management department for information about facilities for the safe disposal of surplus chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. They should never be included in household rubbish, burnt, placed in skips, or poured into watercourses or any kind of drainage system.