Public Bat Walks: Generic Risk Assessment 2003

This is provided as an aid to others planning to run bat walks but we recommend that each prospective site for a bat walk be carefully assessed for any additional hazards not listed here.

Hazard

Precautions

Slips / trips / falls

Make a daytime planning visit to select the route for the walk to as far as possible avoid paths that are any combination of narrow, muddy, dark, or have significant trip hazards such as tree roots. Where these are unavoidable, ensure that someone stands next to the identified hazard while people pass and clearly illuminating the hazard with a torch. Advise participants to bring a torch, and try to ensure that those that do are evenly distributed among participants.

Bites from insects   Advise use of insect repellent as the risk is highest at dusk when bat walks take place.

Poisonous plants

Ensure that walk avoids areas with poisonous plants (such as giant hogweed) or that these are clearly pointed out to participants.

Excited children

Advise parents or guardians to ensure that their children stay with them at all times and that they are responsible for them. No unaccompanied children (under 16) should be allowed on the walk.

Drowning - falling into rivers or ponds & lakes

Ensure that participants are made aware of where banks etc. are located. Route walk away from any particularly narrow or hazardous areas.

Hypothermia from exposure or becoming wet

Abandon walk if weather is poor at start or during walk.

Toxocariasis

Risk from contact with dog faeces, particularly to small children. Try to ensure that walk avoids areas with serious contamination.

Weils disease

Only likely to be a risk to those who accidentally come into contact with potentially contaminated water. Anyone who does so should be warned to watch for flu like symptoms within a few weeks and report them to their doctor immediately.

Lyme’s disease

This can be contracted from infected ticks that may be present in vegetation on sites where deer in particular are present. The walk should keep to open paths and never cross over areas of thick vegetation.

Problems with dogs

London Bat Group recommends that dogs should not be permitted on bat walks as they may prove to be a distraction especially to children. If any participants bring any dogs ask them to leave them in their car or that they must be strictly kept on a lead. Watch out for any stray animals near to group.

Physical assault

Try to ensure that no one becomes separated from the main body of participants and that those who leave early do so in reasonable numbers. If possible, a volunteer should act as back marker while the group is on the move.

Accidents & sickness

Ensure that the nearest A&E hospital is known. Make note of the location of the nearest public telephone, or that there is access to a mobile phone and that the emergency services could be reliably directed to the location of the walk.