Leasing and Maintenance of Golf Buggies
Golf course buggies are becoming more and more commonplace in golf clubs throughout the UK, they can be used by:
- Employees working out on the course.
As with the introduction of any new equipment or technology the risks need to be assessed and sufficient controls require to be implemented. It is important to note that the the safe use of buggies on the course will be dictated by various issues including:
- Layout and topography of the course.
- Weather and course conditions.
- The experience of the person using the buggy.
Information to be given to Golf Buggy Users
It is important that whoever the user of the golf buggy is, they are given appropriate information and training on the safe use and handling of the buggy on the course, which should include:
- Familiarisation with the controls of the buggy.
- Information on general safe use of buggies and hazards.
- Specific information of the course hazards e.g. golf course hazards such as steep slopes, banks, water hazards, etc. Also instructions such as routes to be taken and areas that should not be accessed by buggies.
- Information on the weather for the likely time of use and any further control that should be in place.
Ideally any person using the golf buggies should have a full driving license as it will provide evidence of experience on similar equipment but this is not a restrict requirement. Any information given to users should be given in the form of a briefing and where necessary a demonstration. Once completed, it should be documented as a record to show this has been completed. A disclaimer form should not be used as it does not provide the user with the enough information and it does not absolve the club of their health and safety duties.
Golf Buggy Policy
To assist the information given to users and allow the club to set rules on the use of buggies clubs should compile a ‘Golf Buggy Safety Policy’. The policy should be issued to, read by and signed by the prospective user, prior to a buggy being hired and taken onto the course.
The policy should include (as a minimum):
- The Club should decide on the minimum driving experience, for example producing a copy of their driving licence before being authorised to use the equipment.
- Guidance on specific routes to be followed and details of areas where buggies MUST NOT be driven e.g. tees, greens, within 2 metres of bunkers or slopes leading to them or within 2 metres of any water hazard.
- General guidance on operation of the buggies concerned e.g. controls (accelerator, foot brake, parking brake, reversing control), driving on slopes, speed limit, etc.
- Details of any local hazards specific to the golf club concerned and based on prevailing conditions.
Some members or visitors to a golf club may be unable to play golf due to physical impairment without the help provided by a motorised ride-on buggy to navigate the course.
- At least one hole of the course that is still able to be accessed safely by a buggy user during times where buggies have been prohibited for able bodied users.
The hole or holes on the course that are selected for this should be primarily flat and the routes to them should be free from additional hazards. Whilst this dispensation is easier for some clubs that others, it should be noted that failure to provide this dispensation has resulted in complaints being made to the Equality and Human Rights Commission under the Equality Act and the affected clubs having to make reasonable adjustments such as the one listed above.
Once the decision has been made the dispensation and specific hole(s) to be used should be written into the golf club buggy policy and applicable staff, who are involved with the leasing and control of buggies on the course, should be instructed of this additional dispensation for disabled golfers.
The requirements for managing golf buggies are:
- Completion of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the buggy equipment.
- Providing information, instruction and training to all staff involved with managing the buggies.
- Provision of personal protective equipment to staff who carry out any maintenance tasks.
- Installation of signage at maintenance working area to remind staff of wearing PPE.
- Servicing of any equipment used in maintenance activities e.g. lifting equipment, local exhaust ventilation, etc.
- Providing users of the equipment information and instruction to operate the equipment safely.
- An assessment of competence prior to giving out equipment to users.
- Road legal (if buggies drive on local roads).
Questions to Consider
- Are users of buggies restricted to over 18 years of age only?
- Has your insurance company been informed of routes typically that buggies would take?
- Is there information and instruction on the course to divert buggies to safer routes?
- Is there a layout or topography of the course available to users?
- Are buggies being fully maintained prior to being given out to users? e.g. fully charged, refueled, etc
- Are details recorded of all buggies given out to users?
- Is there a policy in place that users must read before acquiring a buggy?
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.