HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY
The purpose of this policy is to protect the health and welfare of walkers in the Group’s rambles and events though the provision of procedures which are as safe as is reasonably practicable.
Lancaster and Morecambe Walking and Social Group is an unaffiliated group whose main aim is the appreciation and protection of the countryside for all. The Group participate in weekly walks and occasional monthly walks guided by an experienced leader. Responsibility for implementation and review of the policy lies with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman and is undertaken on a 12 month basis.
All accidents and near-misses are recorded within 24 hours of an incident on an Incident Report Form. Paper copies to be kept by the Vice-Chairman. An electronic copy to also be held by the Vice-Chairman and is available on request immediately after an incident. Accidents and near-misses are discussed at committee meetings and lessons noted and actioned.
All activities of the Group are covered by the Group’s insurance arrangements for personal injury to walkers or members of the public and damage to members’ property, or the property of landowners etc. Details of the insurance arrangements are available on the Group’s website. Insurance premiums are subsumed within the membership fee. It is a requirement of the insurance rules that all walks are advertised on the Group’s website and that non-members may attend up to 3 walks before being asked to join. Walkers must be members of the Group. Members making ad-hoc arrangements between themselves to undertake a walk will not be covered by Group’s insurance, however reccies on behalf of the Group will be covered by said insurance.
Walk leaders and back markers:
Walk leaders are expected to reccy their walk routes prior to the day of the walk and to make a note of any obvious risks and hazards and to arrange diversions where serious hazards are present or to advise walkers about potential hazards at the start of walks. A generic risk assessment will be followed and where necessary, extra information concerning risks included in walk details and given verbally prior to, and during a walk
Walk leaders should appoint a back marker to ensure that walkers are keeping up with the group and don’t get lost. The back marker and walk leader will share phone numbers in the event of a mishap.
Walk leaders will record the names and contact details of each walker. Walk leaders must also have details of an emergency contact for each walker. These details must be kept for a year after the date of the walk.
Walk leaders are expected to be competent in using and carrying an appropriate map, either a paper or electronic copy plus a navigational aid – either a compass or Satnav.
Walk leaders must take note of any roads included in their walk that may potentially be a hazard to the walking group. This should be noted in walk descriptions and participating walkers will be reminded of any challenging roads at the start of a walk and during the walk, when walkers will be expected to be vigilant, walking in single file and behaving appropriately around traffic
It is the duty of walk leaders to ensure all participating walkers are dressed adequately for the conditions including weather and terrain. Walkers will be informed of the need for weatherproof jackets, sensible trousers and robust footwear. A walk leader has the right to refuse any walker who is inappropriately dressed to participate.
The Group will encourage members to train as first-aiders but generally walks will be supported by leaders carrying a club first-aid kit. Members will also be encouraged to bring their own first-aid kits on walks and any personal medical equipment they may require. Any member fully certificated as a first-aider will make a walk leader aware of this prior to the commencement of a walk .
Walkers will not be required to cross hazardous streams (not deeper than shin-deep) or undertake anything more technical than easy rock scrambling up to but not exceeding Grade 1 or to climb or cross steep snow or ice requiring any kind of specialised equipment e.g. ice axe, ropes, spikes, crampons
Walks are graded according to our grading system:
Easy – Walks for reasonably fit people with at least a little country walking experience. May include unsurfaced rural paths. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are recommended.
Moderate – walks for people with country walking experience and a good level of fitness. May include some steep paths and open country, and may be at a brisker pace. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are essential.
Hard – walks for experienced country walkers with an above average fitness level. May include hills and rough country, and may be at a brisk pace. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are essential.
People in doubt about their fitness should contact the organiser or leader in advance.
Walkers who are unable to complete a walk for whatever reason may be accompanied back to the start on a shorter or easier route or alternatively, provided with any appropriate shelter and a companion and collected later or whatever other strategy may be appropriate (e.g. bus, taxi, call a friend)
Dealing with accidents/illness
The walk leader will co-ordinate care of any casualties with any first-aider and any other medically skilled members who may be present.
The walk leader will be responsible for any decision to call emergency services and will make the call. The decision will be informed by any first-aider or any other medically competent person available.
In a remote situation which is not immediately accessible by a road ambulance and crew the walk leader will contact the police via 999 and ask for mountain rescue (MRT) MRT may load an app onto the caller’s phone to identify the position. The walk leader should have a six figure grid reference and/or a what3words location and a description of the location, the nature of the injury/illness. If possible the age and gender of the casualty and who else is accompanying them.
If there is no phone signal, details of the incident should be written down by the walk leader (name of casualty, gender, age, nature of injury, grid reference or what3words, walk leaders phone number) – and a party of not less than 2 despatched to find a phone signal or a farm etc. from where a report can be made.
The main body of the group should, if possible, proceed back to the start by any reasonable route, with a deputy walk leader appointed with a small group remaining with the casualty.
The casualty and any remaining walkers should be kept sheltered and as warm as possible.
Cattle and other animals:
Generally walkers should walk together past cattle giving them a reasonably wide berth and keeping calm and quiet. Dogs should be leashed or carried. If the cattle’s nature is feisty or uncertain, walk leaders may take the decision to take a diversion with the group as a whole, or for those with a dog, suggest a smaller group divert and meet up a little further along the route. If a dog walker is attacked, the walker should release their dog and seek refuge themselves. Other animals may also present a risk and the walk leader will have identified the risks during the reccy and these should be treated in the same way as cattle.
Ticks can transmit bacteria that cause diseases such as Lyme disease. Although not all tick bites result in disease, members should be told how to avoid tick bites and to take action if they get bitten. The club’s first aid kits will include a tick remover and instructions on how to remove a tick. Anyone suffering a reaction to a tick after a walk will be advised to contact their GP and also if they begin to feel ill.
Steep ground, tides, stiles:
Very steep ground should be avoided. Steep ground may be slippery when wet or muddy and walkers may need physical support in descending. On any walk involving steep or muddy ground, leaders will strongly suggest walkers bring walking poles with them..
Stiles which are in poor repair or which are very high will pose a hazard and wooden stiles, especially ladder stiles may be very slippery when damp. Walk leaders will encourage walkers to support each other in such places.
Walk leaders should ensure that any walk involving a tidal area is safely accessible by all walkers at the appropriate time.
Hazards encountered on public rights of way will be reported to the Local Authority by the Footpaths Officer.
Leaders must become familiar with texting 999 or 112 in areas with poor mobile phone reception as detailed below: If a phone has no service it is possible that a text to 999 (or 112) might still get through.To register using SMS text messages you must:
- Send the word ‘register’ in an SMS(text) message to 999
2. You will then receive SMS messages about the service
3. When you have read these SMS messages reply by sending ‘yes’ in an SMS message to 999
4. You will receive a SMS message telling you that your mobile phone is registered or if there is a problem with your registration