Managing public safety

What you need to know

Managing public safety is the responsibility of everyone involved in forestry work. You need to provide control measures to protect members of the public. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places a duty on employers and self-employed to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that their work does not affect the health and safety of others. Landowners and forestry works managers must plan and coordinate safety measures and operators on forest sites must implement them.

You must control risks if they affect the health and safety of the public on forest sites. This applies both where forest recreational facilities have been provided for public use, and wherever forestry work tales place.

Forest recreational facilities include formal routes for walking, cycling and riding on horseback, picnic areas, nature viewing areas, campsites and adventure playgrounds. Forestry works include those where informal routes exist and you know that workers and visitors use them for access.

Whether the access is formal or informal, you should identify the reasonable practicable controls that you need to apply.

These principles also apply to mechanical weeding, civil engineering, chemical spraying and ground preparation.

Landowners, forest works managers, operators, and banksmen should carefully consider proximity areas, harvesting work sites and haulage routes.

What you need to do

On all reasonably foreseeable approaches to the worksite, erect warning and prohibition signs conforming to the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, indicating a hazardous worksite and that unauthorised access is prohibited. In areas of high public access, you may need to use additional controls, eg barrier tape, barriers or extra personnel.


To control access to the site, you need to:

  • Inform the public at the entrances to the forest.
  • Apply for temporary diversion or closure of public footpaths.
  • Put up warning and prohibition signs or barriers.
  • Use banksmen when working near areas of public access.
  • Implement directional routes for timber movement, diversions and weight restrictions.
  • Restrict road use.

Ask yourself:

  • Does a public access route lead directly into a work site with no diversions possible?
  • Can people continue to use the route but be diverted away or around the work site?

Closures and diversions

The landowner and forestry works manager should:

  • Close all facilities in the proximity area.
  • Advise on alternatives.
  • Divert routes away from the work site.
  • Inform through local media, noticeboards, signs and community involvement.
  • Time work by selecting a less busy period or restricting weekend working.
  • Focus on reducing reduce time spent on site.
  • Put up threshold signs at all known access points to the proximity zone.
  • Tell the public about the work and advise them on the need to comply with all prohibition warning and diversion signs.
  • Put up warning signs conforming to the Health and Safety (safety signs and signals) Regulations 1996.
  • Put up fences, barriers or barrier tape.
  • If necessary, provide a person at access points to re-direct or warn the public to ensure their safety. Banksmen should maintain effective contact with the operator(s)

Deal with the public

Make sure operators know how to deal with the public - advise them to:

  • Watch out for members of the public on the work site.
  • Stop work immediately if any risk zone is breached.
  • Tell the forestry work manager about breaches of the risk zones that need remedial action.

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