Working on Slopes
Suitable controls are required to eliminate where possible or at least minimise the risk when working near or on slopes within a golf club. Ride on and pedestrian controlled machinery can overturn or suffer loss of control when working on slopes, uneven ground, near ditches or bunkers. So necessary controls have to be implemented to avoid incidents occurring.
Tractors and self-propelled machinery can be at risk of overturning or suffer loss of control, when working on slopes, uneven ground, near ditches or bunkers. Poor weight distribution, incorrect loading, poor or incorrect maintenance, in addition to tasks such as turning on slopes and unsafe driving practices can all have a significant impact on the risk of an accident involving loss of control or overturning. A slope area should never be considered as completely safe. Operations on grass slopes require complete due care as grass can be very slippery especially when wet.
The risks of injury when working on slopes is not only from when workers are operating ride on machinery but also when operating handheld equipment and pedestrian controlled machinery. Operators are at risk of slipping on the slope which may lead to injury from falling or possible contact with moving parts of the equipment such as strimmer lines / blades, hedge cutting blades, mower blades, etc. Operators could be affected by incorrect posture when operating equipment on slopes. The equipment could be more prone to overturning or sliding on the slope and moving parts on the equipment increases the risk of objects or debris being ejected from the machinery.
Throughout the golf course itself, there will be a number of high risk sloped areas where extra care and precautions have to be taken. There will be a number of 'no go' areas for machinery and manufacturer’s instructions should advise of slope limitations for the machinery being used. Steep slopes, uneven ground, ditches and bunkers are likely to cause problems.
Maintenance and Training
To ensure that is in full working order, is it extremely important that routine checks and maintenance is carried out. These checks and maintenance will ensure that:
- Any safety devices or warning systems are in good condition and effective
- Operational devices such as steering are in good working order with no excessive free movement and no unnecessary play on the front wheel bearings
- Tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and tyre tread is adequate
- Brakes on machinery are positioned correctly and working efficiently.
Operators should receive adequate training to recognise potentially dangerous situations such as working on slopes and know how to manage these safely. Training should focus on the need for care and concentration when working with equipment on slopes and uneven surfaces. When working with tractors and self-propelled machinery in is extremely important to pay attention to changes in ground conditions e.g. potholes, gravel or the turning circle load and speed which may affect the safety of the operation.
The main requirements in relation to managing safety whilst working on or nearby slopes are:
- Completion of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment on the course to identify areas where incidents could occur e.g. steep slopes, uneven ground, ditches, bunkers, etc.
- Providing information, instruction, and supervision to all staff involved in the tasks where they are working on or nearby slopes.
- Maintenance of any safety equipment being used such as rollover bars, seat belts, roll frames, etc.
- Maintenance to manufacturers specification of the machinery being used working on slopes.
- Suitable first aid arrangements and equipment in place.
- Emergency procedures if an incident was to occur.
- Installation of information, instruction and signage to all persons who could be at risk.
- Provision of personal protective equipment.
- Providing safe access and egress to or from working area.
Questions to Consider
- Are pre-operational checks being carried out on machinery?
- Is safety equipment in place and in good working order?
- Is there a log of any near misses or incidents occurring?
- Has a topographic map of the course been completed?
- Are operators wearing necessary personal protective equipment?
The above guidance provides an introduction on the main requirements needed to adequately manage this health and safety topic. If you require further guidance, risk assessments or template documentation on this subject please consult your relevant full guidance health and safety website (BIGGA, England Golf, Scottish Golf, Wales Golf). If you do not hold the log in details for this website, for your club, please speak to your golf club management team to identify who the account administrator is and request the details.