Varying forms of transport can be used on the golf course from buggies and ATV's to tractors and 4x4 cars. Due to the differing surfaces on the course from a normal road it is important for persons using vehicular transport on the course to realise the increased hazards and the additional care that is required.
Additionally pedestrians who are on the course at the same time as course transport are at an increased risk. Primarily course users are at risk where:
- Club vehicles crossing the course for greenkeeping activities;
- Buggies are driven by other members on the course;
- Vehicles of contractors are present carrying out work on the course;
- Public roads pass through the playing area.
In order to ensure that both pedestrians on the course and vehicle operators are kept as safe as possible the following controls should be in place:
Whilst it is not always possible, wherever it is safe to do so all vehicles and pedestrians should be separated to eliminate the risk from collisions and accidents. This can usually be done by providing greenkeeping and contractor only paths away from the main area of play.
Surfaces and Topography
The surface condition of the course and its topography play a large part within regards to the risk of vehicle accidents and chances of a rollover on the course. Whilst you cannot strictly control these factors, measures can be put in place to reduce the chances of rollovers and collisions due to the surface and topography of the course namely:
- Sufficiently assessing the angles of the slopes and banks that are present on the course and noting any areas that are over 15 degrees
- Having designated routes for vehicle travel that are away from any banks or slopes over 15 degrees
- Where there is no alternate flatter route on the course, the provision of paths with surfaces that provide more traction to mitigate the risk from the angle of the slope
Routing and Signage
In order for all users of the course to realise the safety measures that have been put in place to separate or reduce the risk from pedestrians and vehicle users it is important that signage is displayed to highlight any hazards or routes that have been designed for pedestrians or vehicle users. In general signage to help pedestrians and vehicle users should be placed at the following areas:
- Before the first tee - signage for course safety information for all course users including information on any transport hazards.
- At road crossings where a public road separates two parts of the golf course - warning signage for course users crossing the road.
- At greenkeeping transportation entrances (where these are close to playing areas) - warning signage for pedestrians warning that transportation may be operating in that area.
Any signage that is displayed should be:
- Clear of obstructions such as signs, vegetation, etc. that may hinder driver or pedestrian vision.
- Where possible away from bends in the road which could obscure the vision of road users.
Training for the safe use of course transportation should include course specific information such as hazardous areas of the course, danger areas with pedestrians, environmental conditions and the reporting of near misses as per this should be documented and refreshed on a routine basis to ensure that greenkeepers are kept up to date with any changes.
Additionally, where contractors are operating vehicles on the course they should also be given a briefing on routes, danger areas and surface conditions to ensure they adhere to the same standard. This should be included in any contractor briefing when applicable.
Golfers who use buggies on the course should be given an induction for the safe use of the buggy and course transportation hazards. This should be recorded by the pro shop staff.
Even with all of the above in place environmental conditions on the course can play a large part as to whether a course transportation accident occurs. With this in mind the responsible persons of the golf club are required to remain vigilant at all times, so that when the weather changes, particularly from dry to wet or at times of low sun or visibility, they react accordingly so that:
- Consideration should be given to the environmental conditions during the operation of vehicles. Issues such as weather, natural lighting conditions and the possibility of drivers being blinded by the sun may need to be addressed and activities changed so that visibility does not cause an additional hazard.
- Rules are in place to stop the use of buggies or course transport (when not essential) in times of wet or inclement weather or general poor surface condition.
The main requirements to manage course transport safely are:
- Suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the course transportation.
- Providing information and instruction to any members or visitors using the course transportation.
- Assessment of competence prior to giving out course transportation to members or visitors.
- Maintenance and servicing of any transport equipment being used on the golf clubs grounds.
- Maintenance of all areas where the course transport is being used to prevent accident or injury occurring.
- Identifying areas of risk to transportation accidents e.g. rollovers by installing diversions and raising awareness of these areas.
- Reviewing the course at time of adverse weather to determine areas of risk and aiming to eliminate or reduce that risk whenever possible.
Questions to Consider
- Are their controls in place for members' private course transportation?
- Is there a course maps or topography information provided for the course?
- Have you considered course transportation hazards involving non-able bodied persons playing on the course?
- Is course transportation restricted to those who are over 18 years old?
- Is course transportation required to be road legal?
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.