Health and safety spot check at Deben Yacht Club


The Health & Safety Executive has said that in order to minimise the risk of infection in the workplace, they will be carrying out checks and inspections on businesses to ensure that they are COVID-secure. These are taking place in all types of business, in all areas, and are by phone or visits. check that the measures put in place by businesses are in line with the current guidance.

One sailing club on the East Coast, Deben Yacht Club in Woodbridge, Suffolk, have recently been subject to one of these spot checks, and wanted to share their experiences with other clubs who may find themselves in similar circumstances. John Prevett, who is Assistant Secretary at Deben Yacht Club explains what happened and what you might expect if your club is chosen for a spot check.

"In mid-October contact was made with the Club by a phone call from the HSE's Spot Checks Team, who asked a number of questions about the operation of the Club. He wanted to know about how the Club had been working, when it was in use, and whether there was a risk assessment in place. Questions were also asked about access to changing rooms, and cleaning regimes"

John was able to explain how, at the volunteer run club, which is also a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), all activities took place within both government and RYA guidelines, and the changes the club had put into place as a result of COVID-19, including increasing the cleaning regime plus changing rooms and showers not being open unless for emergency use.

"We are very aware that the club facilities are very much on view to members of the public, with passers-by having a prime view of dinghies being prepared and launched. Whilst we have gone to significant efforts to ensure that preparation and launching arrangements adhered to the rule of six with large gaps between each group, to the public, it could look like more people" he explains.

Although the HSE confirmed that they were satisfied with Deben YC's arrangements, which also included two slide shows  "Back to Sailing" and "Back to Work" , which set out to show members the club's arrangements for sailing and working parties, John followed this up with a message to members reminding them of the need to ensure compliance with these arrangements.

He emphasised the importance for all clubs to be prepared for such unexpected visits or calls, (which had for him, come as somewhat of a surprise) and to have systems in place to minimise the risk of transmissions of COVID-19. He also highlighted that it is essential for clubs to be following RYA Guidelines to support their activities which can be found here.

The HSE say that during checks and inspections they will provide advice and guidance to manage risk and protect workers, customers and visitors but where this is not managed, immediate action can be taken by HSE, including:

  • providing specific advice
  • stopping certain work practices until they are made safe
  • issuing enforcement notices
  • prosecution where a business fails to comply

For more information on these spot checks, visit the HSE website.