Health and Safety


Allotment sites and gardening are relatively safe and risk free, however all activities carry an element of risk and the Trustees, Committee and Members of Alveston & Tiddington Allotment & Gardens Association (ATAGA) view Health and Safety as important and take a sensible pragmatic approach to ensure that members, other people, the environment and wildlife are not put at unnecessary risk.


Due to the nature of the activity the Committee rely on the common sense of Association Members to ensure a safe environment and provide guidance information where necessary to ensure Members take appropriate action when undertaking activities. Equipment is demonstrated particularly to new members or when unfamiliar equipment is made available. Please read the operating instructions for any equipment that you are about to use.  Be aware of what you need to do to protect your own safety and those around you.

Allotment Society Owned Equipment

The Association has a range of equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for members to use on the ATAGA site. A small donation is levied to cover fuel and necessary maintenance. Members are expected to sign out the equipment (to register that you are aware of it’s safe operation and use), as well as clean and report any operating or performance issues on return to allow investigation. For more details see our Equipment page.

Power Tool Guidance Notes

Power tools, both petrol and battery electric driven, can make working your plot easier. However using such tools can have serious safety implications.


  • Ensure you know how to use the equipment. Read instructions and if necessary have it demonstrated to you before use.
  • Be particularly aware of safety devices such as “Deadman’s Handles” and on/off switch positions.
  • Ensure guards are in place and note any unusual vibration during use.
  • Inspect equipment before use and report any defects. DO NOT use defective equipment.
  • Make sure that adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used namely gloves and stout shoes/boos, ideally with steel toe caps for added protection. In addition eye and ear protection is advisable and available.
  • Make sure equipment will not unintentionally operate when clearing, adjusting or cleaning.
  • Be careful of hot parts of the engine and exhaust manifold there is a risk of burns (gloves) and also a potential ignition risk on re-fueling during use.
  • Be aware of hazards caused by petrol (see section below).
  • Inspect the area where the equipment is to be used for stones and rubble, glass, wire etc. that could damage the equipment or throw objects around.
  • Avoid using equipment when there are other people or animals present and never leave the equipment running or unattended. Never allow children to operate power tools.

Physical Exercise & General Awareness

Guidance Notes

  • Make sure that adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used namely gloves and stout shoes/boots, ideally with steel toe caps for added protection.
  • It may be appropriate to also use additional support devices for hands, wrists and back.
  • Take appropriate breaks with refreshment if necessary. Use hand sterilisation gels or soap and water to avoid infection.
  • Ensure that people know where you are working and over what period. A mobile telephone may help to ensure you stay safe. If work is particularly demanding ensure you have help or other plot holders are near at hand.
  • Be aware of the working conditions for example wet and slippery surfaces or the need for sun block in sunny conditions.
  • Wash produce before eating.
  • Have a first aid kit to hand in case of an accident.

Health Hazards

Tetanus or Lockjaw – Is a serious infection caused by bacterium that live in the soil and especially manured soil.  It enters the body through even the smallest abrasion, scratch, puncture or cut and a few days or weeks later the symptoms develop. Always wear gloves when handling any type of manure.  Fresh manure should be heaped for 6 months, giving time for e-coli to break down. Please make sure that you have a vaccination that can protect you against tetanus.

Skin Irritations – Wear gloves and long-sleeved garments when pruning plants that can cause skin irritations for example ivy, euphorbia or rue.  Be aware that susceptibility to these plants vary from individual to individual.

Vermin Diseases – Rats carry up to 70 diseases including Weil’s Disease, which can cause human death via contaminated water. Plot holders must be vigilant and report any signs of infestation, which include burrows, tracks, droppings and observing the vermin. Inform the Committee should you encounter this problem and take appropriate action.  

Legionella – In very hot weather, especially in green houses, it is possible, although very rare, for Legionella (Legionnaires’ Disease) to multiply in warm water to potentially harmful levels.  Avoid storing potting media in greenhouses or spraying fine mists.

Petrol Safe Storage and Use

Petrol is extremely flammable and could lead to a fire or an explosion if it is not stored correctly or it were to come into contact with a spark or other source of ignition, obviously smoking is totally inadvisable. Extreme care needs to be taken when filling powered equipment and where possible transferring petrol from one container to another should be avoided.

Overfilling tanks or using petrol to light or relight a fire can be a significant risk, and a number of serious fires start through using petrol carelessly or recklessly. It is well known that the liquid is highly flammable and as a result it can ignite when used near open flames or when it comes in contact with a hot surface such as a lawnmower exhaust pipe. Petrol and other fuels also give off an extremely flammable vapour.

There are very specific regulations about the type of petrol cans and other containers which can be produced and sold in the UK, and how much petrol you can store at any time. While there are currently no legal restrictions regarding the number of containers you can fill at a petrol station, there is a limit to how much can be stored in a vehicle. Currently this stands at up to 30-litres of petrol in a maximum of two suitable containers in any vehicle.

As an individual plot holder or allotment association it is unlikely to require a lot of fuel, and the less you transport and store the lower the risk. Modern unleaded petrol can only be stored for around three months before it goes stale and will make your lawn mower difficult to start.

Fuel containers should only be secured and stored in a shed or garage that is well ventilated and at a relatively ambient temperature.

5-litre Plastic Cans – You are legally able to store two of these cans domestically, meaning you could have up to 10 litres stored in plastic cans at any one time. These tend to be the most common form of fuel container.

10-litre Metal Containers – You are legally able to store up to 20 litres in metal cans, meaning you can have up to two 10-litre metal fuel containers. In total you can store up to 30-litres of petrol by using two 10-litre petrol cans in combination with two 5-litre plastic containers. The fuel in your lawnmower or other petrol garden machinery also counts toward this storage limit.

Un-Leaded Petrol COSHH Data Sheet


All chemicals including organic and synthetic preservatives, fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides  must not be used in communal areas, roadways or paths, refer to your Tenants Agreement, section 11iii.

Chemicals should not be prepared at communal water points but only on members own plots. It is recommended that chemicals are kept securely locked in their own cupboard in your shed, away from children and in clearly marked containers.  Do not keep them in lemonade bottles or other food containers or leave them lying around your plot.

Try to minimise the use of agro-chemicals to reduce the impact on the environment. Be aware of the local wind conditions as this can carry chemicals outside of your plot, keep them to your own plot and take care not to over-spray on to neighbouring plots or communal areas. Neighbouring plots may garden organically and will not appreciate you for it! Please note that Garden Organic ( provide advice and publications on methods of pest control that do not require pesticides and gardening methods that reduce pest attack.

When using pesticides or fertilisers wear suitable clothing such as gloves, eye protection, overalls  and a mouth mask.

Please ensure that pesticides or fertilisers are disposed of responsibly.  Chemicals should never be included in household rubbish, burnt, placed in skips or poured into any kind of drainage system or watercourse. If in doubt please contact the local council for advice on this activity,

Roundup COSHH Data Sheet

Weedol 2 COSHH Data Sheet

Water Hazards

There are no ponds or drains in the allotment area, however some plots have stored rainwater in tanks and butts. People at most risk of drowning in water are children under three years of age.  Risk from drowning decreases as a child’s age increases with their understanding of the danger. Children should be supervised on allotments at all times and must not go on other peoples’ plots without their express permission.  


There is no law preventing bonfires, or specifying the time that you can have them. The Environmental Protection Act (1990), however, prohibits a statutory nuisance being caused by smoke, and every effort should be taken to prevent this blowing onto other plot holders, local residential property, highways and the public in general.

Plot holders are reminded that it is an offence in law to burn plastics, and other synthetic or hazardous materials.

Do not leave a fire unattended and ensure that it is completely extinguished before you leave the plot.

Please refer to your Allotment Tenancy Agreement Section 11 ii, on this topic.

Hazardous Rubbish

Ensure that you do not leave broken glass and other hazardous materials on your plot or the allotment site. There are no locations where rubbish can be dumped and the onus is on the plot tenant to remove this from site and dispose of appropriately. Further information regarding household waste disposal can be obtained from the local authorities

If you discover a significant amount of rubbish underneath the soil, such as broken glass plastics etc, then please inform the Committee who may be able to offer some assistance.

Hazards for Wildlife

These include litter, low-level fruit netting, use of pesticides, slug pellets, mowing, strimming, broken glass and pre-stacked bonfires, in this case check your bonfire for wildlife before lighting it. Certain wildlife e.g. badgers, slow worms, some birds of prey and reptiles have specific legal protection concerning their management.

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