There can be lots of health and safety issues to consider when undertaking litter picks at the coast, some are general good practice and other are more specific to being in a coastal environment. This page is designed to highlight some of the key considerations and provide links to information.
The Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) project has good advice on public liability. This states that groups should have public liability insurance and it is your responsibility to ensure that adequate cover is in place, this will provide cover for your legal liability arising from accidental damage or injury (to a member of the public or their property) that may occur during the event. Many groups already have relevant cover e.g. educational institutions or groups that are part of a larger or national body but if not, you should contact your local council whose insurance may cover this type of event. If your group already has public liability insurance but is new to litter picking, it is your responsibility to notify your insurer of a new activity and satisfy yourself that adequate cover is in place before holding an event.
If you plan to take and share any photographs of participants at your event, please ensure they have provided consent for their photos to be shared with the public. We suggest collecting signed photo consent forms from your participants to evidence this. The PPP project has a photo consent form that you can download to use.
Please follow any current national and local government guidelines on lockdown restrictions, self-isolation and social distancing measures. You can find the latest information about what you can and cannot do at gov.uk/coronavirus.
You must have an appropriate risk assessment for litter picking in place. You can download an example risk assessment from The Rivers Trust.
If you are litter picking at the coast it is important to also get the advice of the Local or Harbour Authority. There are many hazards associated with the foreshore and some dangers may not always be immediately apparent. Always check the tides and weather conditions before beach cleaning. Harbour Authorities will be able to advise on safe access points and how to avoid potentially dangerous locations like mudflats.
Litter Free Dorset have produced a great 'safety talk' leaflet that gives advice on safety concerns when undertaking a litter pick.
The BTO have useful information of what to consider for volunteers working in the field, although specific to bird data collection, much of the advice has wider applicability: