Introduction to this document

Risk assessment - work near water

If your staff work near water, then you’ll need to complete a risk assessment to make sure that they and others in the area are kept safe. Ours will help you to get started.

What’s covered?

This risk assessment sets out various hazards associated with working near water. In addition to the obvious such as the risk of drowning, it covers:

  • the prevention of falls into water
  • the use of lifejackets, rescue plans and emergency procedures where the risk of a fall into water can’t be eliminated
  • work on or near steep banks and sheer drops, including the risk of vehicles overturning
  • changes which may attract and cause danger to the public, including children, or which disrupt existing public access
  • extreme weather conditions including sea storms, freezing temperatures and the risks of working outdoors in unsheltered locations
  • health risks of contact with contaminated water or soil; and
  • work with electrical equipment.

Make your instructions clear

Don’t include activities in your document that don’t need to be there. Work to the principle that if there is any chance of your staff being unaware of the safe way of doing something, then you will need to make it clear in your document. Always ensure that you examine the risks that are applicable to your workplace when carrying out work near water. Finally, always make sure that any control measures you identify and follow are decided upon the principle of “so far as is reasonably practicable”.   

Note. The list of potential hazards is not exhaustive. However, for your risk assessment to be considered suitable and sufficient in the eyes of the law it must accurately reflect the “significant” hazards found when working near water.