UCL Department of Geography


Working on or Near Water Hazard Tables

Boat Handling
RisksAssociated Control Measures
Equipment - failure to check or use correctly resulting in personal injury
  • The Helm is responsible for all decisions within the boat.
  • Ensure the boat is fully inflated and that valves are sealed correctly.
  • Inflate the keel (where appropriate) in windy conditions for extra stability.
  • Wear survival suits in rough, cold conditions. Be aware that conditions in the middle of a lake may be much rougher than those at the launch site, which is often a sheltered bay.
  • A minimum of two people should be in the boat while in operation.
  • A tool kit including a knife, pliers, spare shear and split pins must be carried on board.
  • A set of oars must always be carried.
  • A boat pump, anchor and rope, a safety line and a bailer should be carried.
  • Check that the motor is securely attached to the transum and is also attached by a rope to the boat for additional security.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient fuel in the tank before setting it out.
  • If using a battery to power an electric engine, treat the battery with care. Always place the battery in a water-tight box, lift carefully and place it in a stable position on board. Avoid skin contact with any leaked acid. Carry material suitable to soak up any acid spills - cat litter works! - and some strong plastic bags to put the contaminated material in.
  • Keep ropes coiled and stowed neatly inside the boat.
  • Keep the bow rope inside the boat to avoid it tangling in the propeller.
Risks of Fire
  • Ensure the fuel tank is horizontal and stable. Open the pressure release valve when the motor is running.
  • No other fuel is allowed on board.
  • Never smoke near inflatable boats or engines.
  • Ensure the boat is sound before setting out and that no damage has occurred in transit.
  • Buoyancy aids must be worn at all times.
  • Submersed obstacles can damage the propeller and the bottom of the boat. Always keep a look-out, especially in shallow water and rocky areas.
  • In gusty winds, short steep localised waves of considerable size can develop. If the boat length exceeds the wavelength, the boat cannot ride the waves. Shelter should be sought.
  • Ensure safe anchoring prior to cutting the engine.
Working Near Water
RisksAssociated Control Measures
Slips, trips and falls.
  • Avoid wearing waders - wellingtons are preferable. Waders are cumbersome and may encourage you to go deeper into the water than is safe.
  • Use a pole to probe ahead to assess the stability of shoreline terrain.
  • If stuck in the mud, do not struggle as this causes deeper sinking. Roll on your back and spread weight evenly whilst attempting to "sledge" to firmer ground.
  • Take special care on slippery rocks around lake shores and river banks. Always look ahead at the ground when walking around the water's edge and plan the route carefully.
  • When sampling in flowing water environments, be careful of slippery or steep banks and fast currents. If the current is fast or the water looks deeper than knee height, do not enter the water. If you must enter the water, a rope should be tied around your waist and secured to the bank.
Risk of being swept away by large waves/fast currents
  • Stay clear of promenades/causeways during storms
  • Do not enter the water if currents are fast.
Associated Risks
  • See also chemical/biological hazards
  • See also Weather