THCC Health and Safety Policy
The Club is affiliated to the Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre (SBOAC) and must adhere to the SBOAC's Health & Safety Policy (H&S). Below is the Club health & safety policy with items referenced where dictated by SBOAC H&S.
All Club members using any Club or SBOAC kit must adhere to the policy.
1. Paddling on the Basin
Adult canoeists paddling without a supervisor or an instructor may do so in groups of three provided they each hold the BCU 2 star award. [SBOAC – H&S 1]
2. Collision Regulations
A canoe underway shall keep out of the way of: a sailboard, a rowing craft. This rule does not absolve users of all craft of their own responsibilities contained in IRPCS. [SBOAC – H&S 3.7]
3. Paddling on the Tidal Thames
Requirements for paddlers
To paddle on the Thames, you must have a BCU Three Star award, or have passed THCC's "Introduction to Paddling on the River Thames" course ("Qualified Paddler").
A paddler who has a BCU Two Star award may join a group of Qualified Paddlers on a one to one buddy system, provided that there are at least three Qualified Paddlers.
A paddler joining THCC for regular paddling on the Thames with significant relevant experience but without the above qualifications or an equivalent BCU recognised foreign qualification may be granted Qualified Paddler status subject to he/she demonstrating his/her skills in a brief basin assessment. In addition, he/she should join the "Introduction to Paddling on the River Thames" course, when it is run.
A visiting paddler (i.e. a non THCC member not intending to paddle regularly on the Thames) may be permitted to join a Thames group by the Qualified Paddlers of that group, subject to equipment availability and capacity constraints. THCC is not obliged to accommodate the request of any visiting paddler. The visiting paddler must satisfy the requirements of a Qualified Paddler before being allowed to participate on a river paddle.
1. Each group should nominate one of their number to be its co-ordinator. Each member of the group is responsible for his/her own safety, and must also take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of the group generally.
As THCC is a not for profit activity club and as the co-ordinator is an unpaid volunteer, the coordinator assumes no legal responsibility for the safety of the group. One of his/her roles is to co-ordinate, with the support and assistance of the rest of the group, the recovery of a capsize, the management of an accident or other safety issue.
2. A one to one buddy system should be organised so that paddlers are monitoring each other, particularly at tricky parts of the Thames.
3. Inform London VTS (020-8855-0315) of group size and direction prior to departure, and inform them of the group's safe return.
4. Paddlers must paddle in a group consisting of at least three Qualified Paddlers. Where possible and sensible, a group should not exceed ten paddlers.
5. Paddlers within a group must paddle together within a distance (not to exceed 50 metres, from the paddler at the front to the one at the back) that allows for easy communication between all group members and to allow each member to be able to respond on a timely basis to incidents.
6. If paddling after sunset, each paddler must have at least one non flashing white light switched on, on his/her boat/person. Each group should also have at least one all round white light switched on. Paddlers must be aware of dangers from behind and the group should ensure that 50% of the lights are facing backwards.
7. Each group should carry a safety pack containing:
- VHF radio (or mobile phone)
- Two-person emergency shelter
- At least one towline
- Set of splits
These packs will be stored in the club cupboard/office.
8. You should avoid paddling in the main fairway of the Thames whenever possible. The main fairway is used for shipping. Canoeists who paddle in the fairway for navigational reasons must be aware of Rule 9 of the Collision Regulations of the International Regulations for the Prevention of Accidents at Sea, which "requires vessels to keep as near as possible to the outer limit of the channel lying on their starboard side as is practicable" (i.e. powered vessels are obliged to be as close as possible to the river bank – this means a canoeist also has to be as close as possible to the river bank, especially when a powered vessel passes by).
9. Cross the Thames at right angles. The strength of the tide may require you to paddle a diagonal course using a ferry glide. Wait until the Thames is clear of traffic and ensure the group stays together when crossing.
10. Before going on the Thames, each paddler must write his/her name on the whiteboard in their paddling groups. Group co-ordinator should be highlighted on the board.
For large club events such as the Christmas paddle, appropriate safety arrangements will be made for that individual event, following the above rules as closely as possible.
1. Ensure that London VTS is informed of the group size and direction of travel before the group leaves, and is notified when the group returns.
2. Ensure that the appropriate safety kit is carried by the group.
3. Agree with the rest of the group, the course, distance, resting places, crossing points and general safety for that trip. Where the group is unable to agree any of these topics, the co-ordinator's decision is final.
4. See paragraph (1) of River Rules above.
Each paddler's role
1. Comply with the River rules above.
2. Assist the co-ordinator.
3. In addition to meeting THCC criteria for paddling on the Thames, satisfy him/herself that he/she has the necessary skills and experience for paddling on the Thames in the conditions prevailing at the time.
4. Ensure that he/she uses appropriate footwear, buoyancy aid and light(s).
4. Arrangements for Off-site Trips [SBOAC 8]
i. These arrangements apply to any activity occurring at a location other than the Centre's site. These measures will form the basis of the controls identified by a risk assessment but may, for some trips, have to be supplemented by additional measures. These minimum standards may however not be waived in the light of a risk assessment. [SBOAC – H&S 8]
ii. Where necessary the Trip Leader will seek advice from those with expertise in the appropriate discipline. [SBOAC – H&S 8]
iii. The trip leader may differ from the organiser, where the leader is experienced to lead the trip
iv. All trips off site using the Centre's equipment must follow the procedures outlined in 1.4 of the Arrangements section of this document. [SBOAC – H&S 8]
v. Daily weather forecasts to be obtained from Marinecall or Weatherfax. Record of forecast to be kept in Trip Log. [SBOAC – H&S 8]
vi. Appropriate information to be provided to the Coastguard for any coastal trips, the predicted weather forecast should be checked with the Coastguard when reporting the details of the trip. [SBOAC – H&S 8]
vii. Additional buoyancy e.g. airbags to be fitted in all kayaks for coastal or estuary trips. Additional equipment to be carried as appropriate. [SBOAC – H&S 8]
viii. Up to Grade 2: all party members BCU 3 star holders [SBOAC – H&S 8.3.2]
ix. Grade 3 and above: all members of trip to hold BCU 3 star and leader to hold BCU 5 star. [SBOAC – H&S 8.3.2]
x. It is the responsibility of the trip leader to ensure that the above criteria, for the trip that they are leading, are met.
xi. Rules for day trips to weirs, paddlers entering the stopper or feature will be BCU 3 star or under the guidance of someone familiar with the weir and subject to the following paragraphs.
4.1 Canoe Helmets
i. Canoe helmets to be worn in appropriate situations by all party members. [SBOAC – H&S 8.3.3]
When playing polo the following safety precautions must be adhered to:
i. Helmets with face guards must be worn
ii. Polo should only be played in appropriately padded boats
6. Sea Kayaks
Sea Kayaks should not be launched from the bank. When entering a sea kayak, you must wade out knee deep before climbing in.
Health & Safety Guidelines
- The Club is an adult club, and therefore takes no responsibility for members who paddle under their own auspices, using their own equipment.
- The Club takes no responsibility for paddlers that willingly violate the Club's Health & Safety policy and paddlers may be banned from paddling with the Club. In such a case no membership fees can be refunded.
- The Club will advise all members as to whether a particular paddle is suitable for the paddler's ability. The Club takes no responsibility for members that do not adhere to this advice.
- Should a paddler more experienced than the trip leader, recommend that paddling should not take place, or certain members not paddle, it is the responsibility of the trip leader to take this advice and act accordingly.
- The trip leader should assimilate all available information for the trip.
Violation of the Health & Safety policy will result in: 1st violation: 3-week ban from paddling with the Club 2nd violation: life-time ban from the club Violations must be reported by group leaders to the Duty Officer or the Club Committee.
Shadwell Basin will carry out random checks to ensure that everyone is following the Health & Safety Policy.