SCRCA Project: Risk Assessment

Coronavirus / COVID-19
Please note that all SCRCA Project activities have been SUSPENDED for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak, except where they can be carried out legally and safely in full compliance with all relevant legislation and advice. For information regarding the outbreak and the associated restrictions / advice, please refer to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus. To be on the safe side, SCRCA Project volunteers are advised NOT to carry-out any project-related activities that involve the use of public transport or that involve visiting indoor locations (regardless of their 'COVID-secure' status) or outdoor locations that are likely to be busy.

Scope and introduction

This Risk Assessment covers all of the activities associated with the SCRCA Project. These activities are described in detail on the "SCRCA Project: Getting involved" page. Activities considered to be a normal part of everyday life for a healthy and active British adult have been excluded from this risk assessment, except where assisting with the SCRCA Project could significantly increase the associated level of risk.

If carried-out in a sensible manner by a competent person, the activities associated with the SCRCA Project do NOT pose a risk to members of the public or other third party individuals beyond those considered to be a normal part of everyday life. This Risk Assessment therefore focuses on the hazards that have the potential to cause harm to the volunteers participating in SCRCA Project activities.

To simplify the document and avoid the need for repetition, the hazards have been grouped into 'hazard classes'. The specific hazards associated with each hazard class - and the control measures required to control / manage the associated risks - are documented on the companion webpage entitled "Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers" and / or in the accompanying briefing documents.

Project background

The SCRCA Project Team is an independent group of adult individuals who have agreed to work together on a purely voluntary basis to achieve a common goal (see the SCRCA Project's homepage for further details). Although the SCRCA Project Team is an independent group, it is currently affiliated with (and currently operates under the umbrella of) the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL). FoSCL kindly provides the SCRCA Project Team with:

  • insurance cover for both SCRCA Project volunteers and for third-party liabilities, etc.;
  • an online home for the Project's publicly accessible material (via the SCRCA Project section of the FoSCL website);
  • an occasional small (but much appreciated) amount of financial support;
  • additional support and encouragement, including (but not limited to) subsidised travel for Project purposes (courtesy of the train operator), access to FoSCL members, promotional opportunities, and training opportunities.

Most of the volunteers undertaking SCRCA Project activities are also long-standing members of FoSCL. The volunteers undertaking the most 'risky' activities (i.e. activities that involve walking in urban and rural areas) are ALL members of FoSCL and, for insurance reasons, being a FoSCL member is a pre-requisite for undertaking these activities.

Glossary of terms

Term Meaning / definition
Accident An unplanned event which leads to injury, damage or loss.
Competent person Someone with the knowledge, skills, experience and other qualities required to safely undertake a role / carry-out an activity.
Control measure A way of reducing risk.
Dynamic risk management The process of identifying, evaluating / re-evaluating and controlling risks in real-time and on an ongoing basis.
Hazard Something with the potential to cause harm.
Home working

For the purposes of the SCRCA Project, home-working is defined as a volunteer undertaking SCRCA Project activities in his or her own home or a similar private location of his or her own choosing.

Note: This differs slightly from the definition used in Health & Safety related legislation, but it is a reasonable equivalent bearing in mind the voluntary context and the nature of the activities.

Incident A health and safety event.
Lone working For the purposes of the SCRCA Project, lone-working is defined as a volunteer undertaking SCRCA Project activities in a public or private place without a colleague / companion.

Note: This differs slightly from the definition used in Health & Safety related legislation, but it is a reasonable equivalent bearing in mind the voluntary context and the nature of the activities.

Near-miss An event which could have led to injury, damage or loss.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Clothing and / or equipment designed to protect the user against [specific] health or safety risks.

Note: Under Health & Safety related legislation, this term covers very specific types of protective equipment and no such equipment is required for any of the activities associated with the SCRCA Project. However, appropriately selected footwear, clothing and / or other equipment can significantly reduce the risk of harm if it is used and / or carried during some of the activities associated with the SCRCA Project. Where this is the case, the subject is explored in the relevant section of "SCRCA Project: Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers" page and / or in the associated briefing documents.

Risk The likelihood of harm occurring.
Risk assessment The process of identifying and evaluating hazards, evaluating risks and drawing-up measures to either eliminate or effectively control / manage those risks.
Risk management The process of identifying, evaluating and controlling risks.

Responsibilities

Each volunteer assisting with the SCRCA Project is responsible for his or her own health and safety and for the safety of anyone else who will or might be affected by the volunteer's decisions / actions.

Unless otherwise specified on the "SCRCA Project: Getting involved" page, all of the activities associated with the SCRCA Project require volunteers to provide and use their own equipment. Each volunteer is individually and solely responsible for ensuring that the equipment they provide and use is appropriate for the task, that it is (and remains) safe to use, and that it is used in a safe manner. Such equipment will NOT be checked by the SCRCA Project Coordinator other than by request or in exceptional circumstances.

The knowledge, skills, experience and capabilities of each SCRCA Project volunteer are assessed by the SCRCA Project Coordinator before the volunteer is asked to undertake any of the activities associated with the SCRCA Project and then on an ongoing basis. However, these assessments rely heavily on information provided by the volunteer / prospective volunteer, both initially and on an ongoing basis. Each volunteer is therefore required to provide honest answers to all questions relating to experience, capability and ability and to advise the SCRCA Project Coordinator - without undue delay - of any concerns or questions that he or she may have relating to the SCRCA Project and related activities. If the volunteer has any doubts or concerns about his or her initial or ongoing ability to safely and effectively carry-out the proposed or agreed SCRCA Project activities, the volunteer must raise these doubts / concerns with the SCRCA Project Coordinator without delay. If necessary, the volunteer must refrain from carrying-out the activity or activities in question until all doubts and concerns have been satisfactorily addressed.

The SCRCA Project Coordinator has the right to turn-down an application from a prospective volunteer seeking to participate in the project and to ask an existing volunteer to stop carrying out project-related activities, either for a defined period, or permanently. The reason(s) for any such decision will be explained to the individual concerned. Any such decision will be final. Due to the informal nature of the project, there is NO appeals process.

SCRCA Project activities and associated hazard classes

SCRCA Project activity
(see "SCRCA Project: Getting involved" for details)
Associated hazard class / classes
1: Data entry / file upload

A: Home working.

C: Using display screen equipment.

2: Reviewing digital cab-view video footage

A: Home working.

C: Using display screen equipment.

3: Creating detailed structure descriptions

A: Home working.

C: Using display screen equipment.

4: Conducting on-site structure assessments

B: Lone working.

D: Hazards associated with walking in urban and rural areas.

E: Violence / aggression

5: Processing digital images

A: Home working.

C: Using display screen equipment.

6: Reviewing recent Assessment Reports and associated images

A: Home working.

C: Using display screen equipment.

7: Research / document review

A: Home working.

B: Lone working.

C: Using display screen equipment.

D: Hazards associated with walking in urban and rural areas.

E: Violence / aggression

The volunteer undertaking the role of SCRCA Project Coordinator may be exposed to any or all of the hazard classes listed in the next section. Furthermore, in order to safely and effectively carry-out the coordination role, the SCRCA Project Coordinator MUST have a thorough understanding of the potential hazards associated with ALL of the Project's activities. However, undertaking the coordination role does NOT increase the level of risk associated with those hazards or bring with it any additional hazards.

Managing / controlling the risk

Hazard class Nature and level of risk Control measures
A: Home working.

Except where hazard classes B or C apply, the SCRCA Project activities that involve working from home do not pose a significant risk to either volunteers or third parties beyond those considered to be a normal part of everyday home-life. However, these risks can still be minimised by heeding some general advice and following some relatively simple instructions.

Volunteers carrying-out SCRCA Project activities at home are STRONGLY ADVISED to review the notes - and heed the advice - contained in section A of the "Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers" page.

B: Lone working.

For the most part, carrying-out SCRCA Project activities alone should not pose a significantly higher level of risk than conducting them with a colleague or companion as the activities themselves can be done safely by one person working alone. However, undertaking these activities alone WILL increase the level of risk in two ways:

1: The threat of violence / aggressive behaviour is generally considered to be higher for a person alone than for a person with a companion or in a group.

2: If a person alone becomes ill or suffers a debilitating injury, he or she may not be able to render the required first-aid, contact the emergency services and / or otherwise obtain assistance. This becomes particularly significant when visiting or walking / travelling through remote locations. Should such a situation arise, the likely consequences range from a long and painful wait for help, through to a potentially avoidable death.

Provided that a few simple rules are followed, the likelihood of the first situation arising is extremely low, given the nature of the activity and the locations / areas in which it is being carried-out (see hazard class E below for further details).

The likelihood of the second situation arising is higher, but still reasonably low in most cases. Furthermore, in most cases, the level of risk can be reduced to what is believed to be a reasonable and acceptable level by adopting a few precautions. However, when underfoot conditions are icy or otherwise exceptionally slippery, the likelihood of suffering a debilitating or fatal injury increases SIGNIFICANTLY - arguably, to an unacceptably high level.

Volunteers carrying-out SCRCA Project activities alone are STRONGLY ADVISED to review the notes - and heed the advice - contained in section B of the "Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers" page.

It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that SCRCA Project volunteers do NOT walk alone in remote locations when underfoot conditions are icy or otherwise exceptionally slippery.

C: Using display screen equipment.

Excessive and / or incorrect use of Display Screen Equipment such as desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smart phones, and television sets (with associated DVD players, VCRs, etc.) could result in eye-strain, headaches, musculoskeletal problems (including repetitive strain injury) and / or mental stress. As the amount of time spent using the equipment increases, the potential for harm also increases. However, the risk can be minimised (and reduced to what is believed to be a reasonable and acceptable level) by heeding some general advice and following some relatively simple instructions.

Volunteers undertaking SCRCA Project activities that involve using Display Screen Equipment are STRONGLY ADVISED to review the notes - and heed the advice - contained in section C of the "Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers" page.

D: Hazards associated with walking in urban and rural areas.

There are numerous potential hazards associated with walking in urban and rural areas and the potential for harm ranges in severity from death (e.g. by falling over a cliff or being hit by lightning or a fast-moving vehicle) through serious illness (e.g. by contracting Weil's disease or tetanus) and serious injury (e.g. head injuries or broken limbs resulting from a slip, trip or fall), to bruises and blisters.

The majority of British adults will already be familiar with the potential hazards associated with walking in urban areas and they will almost certainly have learned and adopted the necessary precautions / risk-control measures. However, walking in rural areas (especially the more remote upland areas) requires a knowledge and skill set which extends well beyond that held by the average British adult. Identifying the potential hazards for (and managing the levels of risk associated with) walking in rural areas is a very important, but complex subject. The subject has therefore been explored in detail in a series of downloadable briefing documents.

Volunteers undertaking SCRCA Project activities that involve walking in urban and / or rural areas are STRONGLY ADVISED to review the notes - and heed the advice - contained in section D of the "Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers" page. Volunteers undertaking SCRCA Project activities that involve walking in rural areas - especially the more remote upland areas - are STRONGLY ADVISED to review the notes - and heed the advice - contained in the briefing documents that can be downloaded via the links in sub-section D4.

Activities that involve walking in the more remote upland areas will only be assigned to individuals who can demonstrate that they already have the fitness, experience and equipment necessary to enable them to undertake the activity safely.

E: Violence / aggression

The risk of being confronted with violent and / or aggressive behaviour is an unpleasant fact of life in modern Britain. However, the risk posed to volunteers undertaking SCRCA Project activities should be no greater than that posed to the average British citizen going about his or her normal daily activities. Furthermore, the risk can be minimised (and reduced to what is believed to be a reasonable and acceptable level) by adopting a few common-sense precautions.

ALL volunteers undertaking activities related to the SCRCA Project are STRONGLY ADVISED to review the notes - and heed the advice - contained in section E of the "Health and Safety Advice for SCRCA Project Volunteers" page.

Review / revision history

Created by Mark R. Harvey on 3rd August 2015.

Review cycle: to be reviewed annually.

Last reviewed by Mark R. Harvey on 7th November 2019.