Risk assessments for trips.

All club trips are lead by BC qualified or club approved leaders. The leader role is to ensure the safe running of the trip and as such their decision should be supported and respected. However we would like to stress that all attending these trips share an equal responsibility for each others safety as peers. By RSVP to a trip you are confirming your role in the group.

Re risk assessment on trips, here are a few thoughts to nudge you in the right direction.

Whether the trip is an official or club lead trip, as leader will have undertaken a dynamic risk assessment for that group on that day. It will have included thoughts on the items listed below. All members of the group to undertake a personal and group risk assessment before joining the trip. it is the responsibility of each person within the group to ensure the suitability of their equipment and themselves for the activity. Club lead trips are a great way to get out, explore, socialise and exercise. Anyone that does participate in should give consideration of their duty of care to themselves each other and give consideration to their individual abilities and aspirations. Having a collective responsibility works well within all groups, with clear agreed expectations, shared planning of the trip / journey as well as the equipment carried for safety and comfort. 

Ask questions such as does my participation cause unacceptable risk to myself or the group.

When planning a river/sea trip you should undertake a risk assessment. This can be verbal and does not need to be written down. The aim is to identify the possible hazards and take action to avoid them before ether occur.

Things to consider before you decide which river you are going to paddle.

  • The river grade /hazards /cruxes. Likelihood of fences / trees.
  • Who in the group has paddled the river before?
  • Recent rainfall / strong wind/ water level/ tides/weather forecast
  • Water quality.
  • The paddlers ability.
  • Personal kit.
  • Group kit.
  • Where is the nearest road /evacuation point if needed.
  • Do you know the paddlers , if no, make efforts to find out.
  • Kit for dealing with ‘issues’, including ways to contact emergency services.

Things to consider before you decide which sea trip you are going to paddle.

  • The sea state, swell , tides, waves, overfalls.
  • Recent strong wind/ tide height level/ tides/weather forecast.
  • The weather, air and water temperature, wind speed and direction and fetch.
  • Does geomorphology affect planning, estuary, surf landing, rocky shore, high cliffs, open crossing.
  • Who in the group has paddled the river / sea section before?
  • Consult pilot / sailing directions where strong tidal streams and/or unfamiliar coast
  • Water quality.
  • The paddlers ability.
  • Personal kit.
  • Group kit.
  • Where is the nearest road /evacuation point if needed.
  • Do you know the paddlers, if no, make efforts to find out.
  • Kit for dealing with ‘issues’, including ways to contact emergency services.
  • What is Plan B

The bottom line, despite having travelled to the venue, it is always possible for an individual or the group to decide NOT to paddle.

LCC urges the trip leader to ensure that a briefing occurs before paddling. If the trip leader forgets to do so then all others have an equal responsibility to ensure a conversation takes place. 

Does everyone know who has:

  • First aid kit / throw line / rescue kit/ first aid qualification.
  • Spare paddles/ boat repair kit /emergency shelter/ radio etc.

and

  • Any medical issues that others should be aware of.
  • Establish how the group will operate on the river. ( see below)
  • Ensure consistency of signals.
  • Share expectations of each other on the water.
  • Share expectations of each other in event of a swimmer or incident.
  • Specify any known hazards and where inspection is intended to be taken.
  • Emphasise respecting the leaders decision.
  • Encourage all to share thoughts and ask questions.

Final kit check – clips, inflated buoyancy in kayak.

Strategies for the journey. At the venue, the leader will communicate the group dynamic This will take account of the expected journey, group size/ river level/ weather conditions/  level of experience of participants. This may include splitting into small separate groups, looping through in pair or as individuals, all run together, or even cancel the event due to water levels being unexpectedly too high.

Any river in flood or spate is considered to be outwith the club remit due to the additional risk of rescuing as swimmer and the extra difficulties rescueing kit. Similarly any rapid or fall for which adequate safety can be not set is considered outwith the club remit.

Strategies for a sea trip. At the venue, the leader will communicate the group dynamic This will take account of the river/ group size/ river level/ weather conditions/  level of experience of participants. This may include splitting into small separate groups, appointing front/ back paddler, distance individuals should stay together. or even cancel the event due to sea state / weather being unexpectedly bad. Any sea journey with wind speeds of force 6 or above would be outwith the club remit.