RISK ASSESSMENT

RISK ASSESSMENT

 

The information below highlights typical hazards that can be found at open water swim venues and suggests measures that can be put in place to mitigate those risks.

This list and the control measures indicated are just examples for guidance only and should NOT be considered as an exhaustive list applying to every swim we have planned. Swimmers will be informed about specific risks and what control measures are in place during the briefing before each swim.

If an identified hazard is considered unacceptable, control measures are then applied with the aim of reducing the risk to an acceptable level. Safety is very important to us, and if the risk posed by a hazard remains high even with the application of control measures, then the activity will most likely NOT take place.

Hazards Who affected? Control measures
Access and Egress Slips, trips, falls, abrasions and cuts, impact with bottom/ underwater hazards Swimmers Site survey, clear debris, protective matting, clearly defined access and egress, landing assistant, medical support
Spectator Access safe viewing, trips, slips, falls Spectators Designated are, barriers, supervision and medical support
Safety team Access and egress - conflict with swimmers, emergency access - recovery of casualty and hand over to include emergency services Swimmers, safety team Designated launch point, cleared and safe, swimmers briefed on action to take if they get into difficulty, safety team briefed and casualty management rehearsed (to include land-based support)
Protection from elements Cold and Heat Swimmers, safety team Shelter, catering facilities, re-warming (space blankets, towels)
Hazards Who affected? Control measures
Cold water Cold shock, hypothermia Swimmers Wetsuit mandatory, maximum swim time, warm drinks/space blankets available, medical support
Warm water Hyperthermia Swimmwers Provision of water at start and finish, briefing swimmers about conditions and need to keep hydrated, medical support
Waves and currents Compromised activity site, drowning hazard Swimmers, safety team Design course with advice from site operator/local knowledge, clear course marking, check course prior to swimming, positioning of safety cover
Underwater features Rocks, shallows, weed beds, entrapment, impact hazard Swimmers, safety team Site survey, local advice, activity site away from obvious and known risks
Floating, suspended debris Choking hazard, impact injury Swimmers Visual site check, remove debris or move activity site
Overhead obstructions Tree branches, low bridges, impact hazard Swimmers, safety team Design course to avoid such hazards where possible, cut back trees if possible, if not use buoys/rope and/or safety craft to guide swimmers away from hazard
Hazards Who affected? Control measures
Experience Ability, panic Swimmers, safety team Advice and training tips, safety team briefing
Accidents Trauma, injury Swimmwers, safety team Swimmers briefed on how to call for assistance, safety cover briefed and trained and positioned for a swift recovery
Visibility low visibility Swimmers Swimmers to wear brightly coloured swim hats, saftey cover positioned to have clear sight and communication lines, course designed with no blind spots
Loss of swimmer Missing swimmer after the swim Swimmers Registration of swimmers, brief to include action to take if withdrawing, head count when entering the water and again when leaving
Overcrowding Impact injuries, panic, ability of safety team to affect a rescue Swimmers, safety team Wave starts with limited numbers, sufficient time gaps between waves to minimise potential for waves to meet, course design to include long straight swims prior to turns to allow swimmers to naturally separate based upon speed/ability, briefing to advise inexperienced swimmers to start towards the back of the wave
Hazards Who affected? Control measures
Design of route Ability to navigate easily and safely Swimmers Use brightly coloured buoys which sit high enough in the water (1-1.5 meters) to be seen at water level, use of lane/guide ropes between buoys on straight out and back courses, use of lead canoeists, course design so that swimmers always keep buoys on the same side
Moving buoys Impact of current waves, prevailing wind Swimmers Test anchoring system prior to swim in different conditions
Emergency access Rapid and safe access for safety team to affect a rescue Swimmers, safety team Course design to consider safety cover positioning around the course to effect easy access to swimmers in difficulty, designated landing point, rehearsal of emergency action plan in the event of having to recover and land a casualty
Hazards Who affected? Control measures
Sunlight Sun glare, visibility, sun burn Swimmers, safety team course design to consider time of the year, time of event, position of sun in the sky, briefing re-use of sun block
winds, swells, waves Visibility and hearing Swimmers, safety team Cancel swim in the event of swell/waves which can affect the ability to observe swimmers, increase the risk of moving buoys and create difficult conditions for safety craft to access groups of swimmers to recover casualties
Mist and fog Visibility Swimmers, safety team Delay start until fog/mist lifts, reduce swim distance/amend course so that whole course can be clearly seen
Hazards Who affected? Control measures
Conflict with stakeholders Boats, PWCs, anglers, bird watchers, various conflicts Swimmers, safety team Liaise with other users, establish clear activity zones, agree activity timetable
Hazards Who affected? Control measures
Casualty recover Impact trauma Swimmers, safety team Appropriate craft and numbers related to activity, ensure safety team is qualified/experienced with rescue craft, rehearse emergency action, additional support from land=based spotters
Communication Ability to communicate over distance Safety team Communications plan, radio, hand signals, sight lines