A risk assessment identifies the controls needed to manage risk to people arising from hazards. The controls are then detailed further into policies, procedures to be followed, and tools to implement the procedures.
For example, in a racing context, a risk assessment might identify the need for competitors to wear personal flotation devices at all times.
This 'control' will be detailed in Class Rules, Racing Rules, and / or the Sailing Instructions.
An important part of any safety system is people knowing what to do and how to do it. Operating procedures are a way of setting out what people should do – the steps they should follow. (The how to do it comes with the competence people have and the tools, equipment and training you give people).
Operating procedures are part of the safety system, and a number of different topics included within this resource can form part of your procedures, such as an overview of your organisation, your safety on the water policy and key roles and responsibilities.
As with any documentation that forms part of a safety management system, operating procedures need to be shared and used. It is worth recording who has read the procedures and when.
There are several ways of structuring procedures
The following are possible headings
Safety policy – statement of intent
Roles and responsibilities
Resources and people needed
A safety plan
3. Operating areas
Local hazards and by-laws
Emergency access and evacuation points
Booking / registering
Risk statements and choosing to take part
5. Manual handling
6. Roles (on the water delivery)
Competency and training required
Equipment and clothing required (personal or provided)
7. Vessels and equipment
Rigging and set up, use, and launching and recovery guides
Competency and training required to rig / use / launch and recover
Owners / operating manuals
Repair and maintenance schedules
Breakages / fault identification
8. Daily risk assessment / decision making
Recording accidents, incidents and near misses
Dealing with a major incident
Emergency Action Plan Flow Chart
Briefings - participants and safety crew
On the water
11. How to manage
Accounting for participants and staff / volunteers
Launching and recovery
Getting to and from the sailing area
Boats and people returning to the shore
Person in the water
Other water users
Deteriorating conditions: fog / poor visibility; strong winds
Person unaccounted for
Questions to ask - Operating procedures
Which of the suggested headings are relevant to our organisation?
Are there any other headings that are relevant to our organisation?
For each heading that is relevant do staff / volunteers:
Know what to do?
Follow the process?
Do you have written operating procedures?
Has the operating procedures document been shared with staff and volunteers involved in on the water activity?
When was the operating procedures last reviewed and updated?
Has anything changed since the last review?
What can you observe happening day to day that you can trace back to the written procedures?
Is there anything included the operating procedures that isn’t being or can’t be implemented?
Every session should have a safety plan. Much of the plan will come from the operating procedures and the steps you take to brief participants, staff and volunteers. A safety plan should mean that those responsible for safety on the water know the steps to be followed for:
Getting to and from the sailing area, including towing arrangements
Safety fleet positioning, numbering / call signs and specified roles
Safety equipment required by safety fleet and competitors / participants
Boats returning to shore while session is continuing
Emergency action plan
Communication methods to be used and channels allocated
Any tallying requirements or other systems to account for who is on the water
Medical or first aid cover for both on the water and on the shore
Guidelines for deteriorating conditions, including loss of visibility
Participant / competitor list and any specific individual needs
Emergency drop off points
Daily risk and dynamic risk assessments.
Questions to ask - A safety plan
How does everyone involved in delivering a session on the water know the safety plan?
What checks can you carry out to be reassured that everyone involved does know the plan?
Any safety management system should have a mechanism for recording accidents and near misses. An accident book is a very useful tool for doing this. Accident books should be reviewed regularly, and action identified to prevent similar accidents from happening again.
The information recorded is an indication of how well safety is being managed and allows others to learn
Accident reporting may well collect personal data, so is subject to GDPR requirements. A variety of accident books are available to purchase, including from HSE.
Near misses are events that could have caused an accident or injury, and it is useful to keep a record of these. The record can be similar in content to an accident book entry. Review, and action from the lessons learned are equally important.
If you are delivering activity for children or people who do not have capacity your procedures should include steps to inform parents, guardians or carers.
Clubs or associations that own, control or occupy land have a range of obligations to guard against visitors being injured. Organisations that are employers will have legal responsibilities to record accidents and injuries and report accidents that cause deaths, reportable injuries and dangerous occurrences (near misses).
The RYA recognises that sharing information about accidents is invaluable for learning and influencing safe behaviour. So the RYA has established a number of triggers for reporting – if you have an accident or incident at your organisation that involves a fatality, hospitalisation, reporting the MAIB, if useful lessons can be learned, or you are in doubt whether you should report, then do contact us using the reporting form.
Questions to ask - Recording accidents, incidents and near misses
Is there a mechanism for recording accidents and near misses?
Do staff / volunteers know about the mechanism?
When was the recording mechanism last used?
When was the data in the accident last reviewed, by whom, and what happened as a result?