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Case study - risk management

Example—lawn mowing risk assessment

In this hypothetical example of a risk assessment, we consider the activity of lawn mowing on a Crown reserve.

Although seemingly a simple activity, there is some degree of risk to staff and visitors that need to be considered.

The first step was to identify hazards based on interviews, research and hands-on experience with other shows and events sharing similar characteristics. This is called a desktop assessment, because it takes place away from the site — perhaps literally at a desk. Hazards identified during the desktop assessment include:

  • inexperienced or new personnel
  • moving blades of mower
  • moving vehicles / equipment
  • fuel storage and use
  • sun exposure
  • noise
  • mechanical failure
  • pedestrian pathway through the reserve
  • endangered ecological community (rare orchid) on site
  • wildlife
  • small stones and other debris on lawn.

This was followed by going to the site and looking around. After walking around the site, the following additional hazards were identified:

  • vehicles parked on the road
  • undergrowth edging the lawn may harbour snakes (brown snakes are known to inhabit the reserve)
  • magpie nests.

Using the risk assessment matrix, risk level was assigned to each hazard, and control measures proposed. The risk level was then revised based on proposed controls. Note that the risks discussed in this example are just a sample of some of the risks, and is not an exhaustive list.

Risk assessment - overall risk determined by likelihood and consequence

Risk assessment

Risk control plan

Hazard description
Risk description
Current risk level
Proposed risk controls
Revised risk level

Inexperienced or new personnel

May make mistakes or neglect aspects of their role.

3C = medium

Ensure person has the necessary skills – reference check.

Provide appropriate training.

Site induction.

2D = low

Moving blades of mower

Injury if operator slips (on wet grass or hill etc)

3C = medium

Wear sturdy, steel-capped boots.

Carry a first aid kit and communications equipment (phone, 2-way radio)

2D = low

Vehicles moving around

Runs into pedestrians

3E = low

As much as possible, reduce mowing to times when the reserve is closed.

Restrict speed.

2E = low

Fuel - storage

Fire, explosion

Personal injury

3B = high

Ensure fuel is stored in correctly labeled container, in a secure (locked) location.

No smoking or naked flames.

Use correct lifting technique, or lifting equipment.

3D = medium

Fuel - use

Fire, explosion.

Chemical exposure

Inhaling fumes

3B = high

Check tap/pump for leaks.

Use appropriate funnel

Absorb any spillage with non-flammable absorbent material, and dispose appropriately.

Do not decant/use in hot weather.

3D = medium

Sun exposure

Sunburn and/or heat stroke

2B = medium

Wear protective clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Have access to drinking water, keep hydrated.

Avoid the middle of the day, especially in warmer months.

2D = low

Noise

Hearing damage (hearing loss with long-term exposure).

May not hear environmental noise (nearby people, cars etc) and have an accident

2C = medium

(3C = medium)

3D = medium

Wear approved ear protection

Keeping looking around - be visually vigilant

2D = low

2D = low

Mechanical failure

Mowing may be prevented or halted part-way through. Expense of repair.

1C = low

Keep mower/s in good working order with regular maintenance and servicing.

1E = low

Pedestrian pathway through reserve

Pedestrians affected by noise of mower at close range.

May be hit by projectiles (stones, sticks, broken glass).

Small children running into path of mower.

1C = low




3C = medium




3D = medium

As much as possible, reduce mowing to times when the reserve is closed or non-busy times.

Restrict speed.

Shut down mower when pedestrians are nearby.

1E = low




3E = low




3E = low

Endangered ecological community - rare orchid - in NE corner of the reserve

Mowing could damage existing plants, disturb seeds, or introduce seeds from competing plants.

4C = high

Mark out the known location of the orchid, adding a 10m buffer zone. Avoid mowing this area.

4E = low

Wildlife

Mowing could frighten larger animals.

Could kill/maim smaller/ slow-moving animals.

1D = low



2D = low

Move slowly enough for wildlife to escape.

1E = low



2E = low

Small stones and other debris in grass

Stones and debris flung up by mower blades could hit person mowing or other nearby people.

3C = medium

Wear sturdy, steel-capped boots, long legged trousers and long sleeves, and eye protection.

As much as possible, reduce mowing to times when the reserve is closed.

Shut down mower when pedestrians are nearby.

2D = low

Vehicles parked on road

Visual obstruction caused by cars - person mowing may not see pedestrians, especially small children.

Car paintwork damaged by flying stones and debris.

3D = medium





1C = low

Prevent cars parking immediately next to lawn (witches hats, warning signs).

Mow the lawn area closest to car parking outside of busy times for visitors.

As much as possible, reduce mowing to times when the reserve is closed.

3E = low






1E = low

Brown snakes on site

Person mowing may encounter snakes in long grass or sunbathing adjacent to undergrowth - surprised snake may bite.

4D = medium

Wear sturdy boots.

Move slowly enough for snakes to escape.

Carry first aid kit and communications equipment.

2E = low

Magpie nests

Swooping males may injure person mowing.

2C = medium

Wear a sturdy, brimmed hat in nesting season (spring).

1C = low

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