HEALTH & SAFETY
All sites used in this FSC course are subject to a formal risk assessment but the following general principles apply to all sites:
Course members are advised to bring, for their own use, a pair of houshold rubber gloves and a small bottle of alcohol based hand cleansing gel.
Surveying freshwater habitats is not any more hazardous than other branches of the natural sciences, each has its own particular risks. The guidelines below are based on Environment Agency guidelines and are worth reading by anyone contemplating sampling rivers, streams or ponds however small.
- Avoid steep or unstable banks, beware of slippery surfaces and areas of deep mud or sand.
- Avoid rivers in spate.
- Test the depth and stability of the bed with a pole or net handle before entering water, even if you can see the bed.
- If you are working in remote areas or deep water avoid working alone.
- Beware of hidden hazards especially in murky waters and urban environments. Watch out for broken glass, sharp objects etc.
- Wear gloves for sampling, cover cuts and abrasions with waterproof plasters and always wash hands before eating. Consider using alcohol based hand gels for this purpose.
- Carry basic first aid items and a mobile phone. Let someone know where you are going. Sealable, waterproof plastic wallets can be bought to protect a phone and through which the phone can be used even after immersion.
- Basic immunisation should include at least tetanus and polio.
The two particular hazards to be aware of are:
Leptospirosis (Weil's Disease) carried by rats and possibly present in areas frequented by them. Infection can enter through wounds and abrasions, hence the advice above on gloves, plasters and washing. Also avoid rubbing eyes, nose or mouth. Symptoms in the early stages may resemble influenza and medical advice should be sought if such symptoms occur after working in an area likely to be contaminated
The second hazard is not really applicable to the beautiful countryside around Flatford which you will see on the course. However many other aquatic sites are used to dump rubbish and especially if you ever sample in urban areas, please remember that fieldwork may potentially bring you into contact with items such as discarded needles, other medical instruments or drug paraphenalia.
Reduce risks by being observant and following the above guidelines.Return to top of page