Health, Safety and Welfare

Staying safe

Health, safety and welfare are all essential considerations for ADA’s members, especially those working and operating near water. There are diverse and detailed safety regulations which should be incorporated into the planning, design, construction and delivery of our members’ work.

This page provides links to the essential information our members need and some useful documents developed by ADA and our members.

The Essentials


Click to expand

The primary legislation covering safety for authorities and businesses is the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (Section 3 relates specifically to visitors & contractors). The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with local authorities (and other enforcing authorities) is responsible for enforcing the Act and a number of other acts and statutory instruments relevant to the working environment. Information can be found at

There is a range of organisations specialising in public safety consultancy and some specialise in water safety.

Designing for safety

Click to expand

Under the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 specific legal duties are placed on designers of construction projects. These include designing with consideration to constructing, maintaining and dismantling safely.

Risk Assessment is a key element to providing a safe environment. The safety of people at a site or during an operation is a fundamental aspect of the design or planning process. A risk assessment, at the design stage, of the proposed activities will highlight features to be designed into the scheme. These could extend to, for example, pontoon lay-out and sizes, lighting, access to facilities, service provision to boats, segregation of car parking, provision of life saving equipment, storage of hazardous substances etc.

Operating safely

Click to expand

Many water management operations take place remotely and require the use of plant equipment such as excavators. The Construction Plant-Hire Association has some useful guidance on operating plant machinery safety.

Operators’ responsibilities extend to everyone on the site including contractors, casual visitors, general public and staff in the workplace. The safety of those with disabilities and people by water are equally important considerations.

Once a site is built and operational, there should be a clear safety policy and appropriate operating procedures (including inspection and maintenance) informed by regular risk assessment.

Water safety

Click to expand

Serious consideration must be given to water safety. The provision of life saving equipment alone may not necessarily discharge your legal duties. Issues such as slip resistant surfaces on pontoons and walkways adjacent to the water, demarcation of edges (e.g. contrasting colours & tactile surfaces), height of freeboard, the provision of a means of escape and a method of preserving life whilst waiting to be rescued must all be considered.

Defra’s Flood rescue concept of operations (2019) contains useful information including Defra’s ‘Water and flood rescue training

RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) have a dedicated water safety section and you can engage their consultants to carry out water safety audits which include reports with advice on risk assessments and operating procedures.

The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is a useful source of information for operators and includes resources and good practice.


Click to expand

Staff are the greatest asset of any organisations and statistics tell us that one in four people will suffer from a mental health concern in any given year, so it’s an important issue for employers and individuals.

All of us have mental health in the same way as we all have physical health and our mental health changes over time in the same way as our physical health does. Creating a positive working environment and being able to support team members struggling with mental health issues are key aspects of a good workplace.

Excessive pressure and demands at work can cause stress, which can lead to chronic physical and mental health conditions. The HSE has written a Talking Toolkit to help employers to start a conversation with their workers and help prevent work-related stress.

Further information regarding mental health in the workplace are available from Mind and the Mental Health Foundation.

IDB Awareness Modules

ADA is pleased to have commissioned this series of Health, Safety & Welfare (HSW) Awareness Modules to help board members of Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) to better understanding what they can do to keep their staff and others safe and well, and successfully lead their IDB.

1a. Board Member Responsibilities


  • A compelling case for managing health and safety
  • Health and safety law
  • Corporate and individual responsibilities
  • When it goes wrong

1b. Effective Leadership for Board Members


  • The importance of effective leadership
  • What makes a good safety leader
  • Developing a positive safety culture
  • Leadership checklist – Plan, Do, Check, Act

2. Managing Risk


  • The importance of risk assessment
  • What the law says
  • How to get it right

Policies, briefings and guidance

Safety, Health, Environment and Wellbeing Code of Practice (SHEW CoP) published by the Environment Agency. Version 5. January 2023.