British Health and Safety Regulations relating to Woodlands
An Outline

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In Britain, employers have a responsibility in law to provide a safe working environment and safe working practices for their employees. Employees must cooperate with the relevant safety procedures and must not interfere with their own safety or that of others. Failure by either party to properly discharge their legal obligations could result in criminal prosecution, as well as civil proceedings by those affected. The penalties can be severe.

Health and Safety regulations are extensive and at times, complex. The legislation and its interpretation are liable to change and the only sensible recourse is to access relevant statutory documents as and when needed. It is therefore recommended that the latest regulations and advice are obtained directly from the Health and Safety Commission.

The regulations cover the following principles.

  • Health and Safety issues are one of the few areas of the law where 'innocence until proven guilty', is not assumed. The onus is on each of the parties to prove their innocence.
  • Much of the machinery involved in woodland work is classed as 'dangerous'. Proper training and demonstration of competence, as well as supervision may be required. Certification may be necessary before certain types of equipment can be operated.
  • If you hire a self-employed person, that person is responsible for his/her own safety. However, if they are hired to work on-site, the employer still has a duty to ensure that Health and Safety standards are maintained.
  • Where employees from different firms are employed on one job, the main contractor is usually responsible for coordinating the work in a safe manner. All employees must be informed of potential hazards, whether they are employees of the main contractor or not.
  • Landowners, employers and contractors all have a responsibility towards visitors to the work place. This may particularly apply where woodland operations are taking place in areas which are open to public use.
  • Where woods have been opened to public use, the landowner has a responsibility to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to ensure that the area is safe.


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