The risks involved in the design or operationof a golf course can be assessed relatively easily. However, many clubs do not understand the level of risk, the responsibilities of Management / Directors or the implications of accidents on the course, in the maintenance buildings or in the clubhouse.
Despite mandatory requirements under Health & Safety legislation, many Clubs have not assessed operational or design risks and thus leave themselves at risk of prosecution, closure or of more serious legal action.
Although many designers often fail to understand their obligations when working on existing courses, clubs continue to make design changes or instigate working practices which are not safe.
Club Captains and Greenkeepers are notorious for making changes without reference to professional designers when, without the backing of Professional Indemnity Insurance, they leave themselves exposed to possible legal action in the case of an accident.
Risk Assessments generally fall into one of two categories - design and operations - the most important thing is to be able to demonstrate that the obligations under Health & Safety legislation or guidance have been met.
The Health & Safety Executive published “Health and Safety in Golf Course Management and Maintenance HSG79” in 1994. This document also does not provide specific advice on the design of courses in terms of separation or relationships but it does contain guidance on Health & Safety legislation and practices.
The 1994 document has been superseded by a document entitled Health and Safety in Golf Course Management and Maintenance produced by the Greenkeepers Training Committee and written by Jon Allbutt and John Davis. In 2008, HSE staff were informed that this document supersedes the HSE Document HSG79.
The exact content of a Risk Assessment is not defined in great detail but the new document advises that it should at least cover:
Part 1 – The golf club Statement of Safety Policy and the specific arrangements for managing health and safety
Part 2 – The General Risk Assessments for the yard, buildings, work equipment and golf course including a specific hole by hole assessment
Part 3 – The COSHH Regulations
Part 4 – Risk Assessments under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations
Part 5 – Risk Assessments for noise and vibration
Part 6 – Risk Assessments carried out under the First Aid at Work Regulations and Code of Practice
Part 7 – Risk Assessments carried out under the Work at Height Regulations
Preparation of such Assessments require a site visit and interviews with most senior staff.