Caru Cymru

Keep everyone safe

This is where you’ll find all the advice and information you need to get out there and start making a difference while keeping yourself and others safe.

Please note, Keep Wales Tidy cannot be held legally responsible for any personal injury or damage suffered or incurred as a result of participation in a litter pick or any other activity.

Assess the risks

Before you start any activity, it is important to visit the site and carry out a risk assessment. This will help ensure any risks are identified and then eliminated or controlled appropriately.

When thinking about your risk assessment, remember:

A hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as road traffic, sharp items, working from height etc;

The risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise following a simple, five-step approach.

1. Identify the hazards
2. Identify who is at risk
3. Evaluate the risks, and ensure adequate control measures are in place
4. Record your findings
5. Review and revise

Carry out an event briefing

An event briefing is the perfect opportunity to provide safety advice to all participants, and to highlight the risks identified in your risk assessment.

It will ensure that everyone is aware of what they should be doing to maintain their own safety along with others who may also be impacted, such as any passers-by. It can also be a useful tool to promote the work you are doing and to seek support for similar activities.

We’ve put together a template safety briefing and checklist to help.

Download the safety briefing

Litter picking advice

Litter picking is not without its risks, but with some planning and careful consideration these risks can be controlled and the likelihood of an accident happening can be minimised. Below are some common considerations that should form part of your risk assessment and safety briefing.

You can also scroll down for guidance on specific types of litter picking events, including working near roads, coastal areas and on waterways.

Getting the right equipment
Litter pickers must be used for collecting litter, and with a little practice it is possible to pick up most types of litter. However, it is important not to over stretch or overreach. Although it can be frustrating, some litter may have to be left if it is not possible to remove it safely. Wherever you are in Wales, you can visit our Litter Picking Hubs to borrow equipment for free.

While litter picking, you should try to avoid touching your face with hands and be aware that the equipment will already have been used. You should thoroughly wash your hands when finished, especially before eating and/or drinking. Any existing cuts or broken skin should be covered with a waterproof plaster to reduce the risk of infection.

First aid
It is highly recommended that you carry with you a first aid kit for minor accidents, and you should have access to a telephone in case of emergency.

Care should be taken to avoid any sharps and/or needles, especially those that may be hidden by other litter or vegetation. Sharps should not be placed inside your rubbish bag as it could cause injury to you or whoever collects the bags later. Needles must not be picked up/collected and the local authority should be informed so that they can deal with it.

Working outdoors
It is important to adjust your activity according to weather conditions, and to make sure that participants are suitably dressed. For example, if it is cold and wet you might consider shortening the length of activity; wet weather can reduce visibility and make the ground slippery; hot weather can lead to dehydration, sunburn and/or heat exhaustion; and wind can cause problems with holding rubbish bags.

> Download advice on working near or on roads and highways

> Download advice on working in coastal areas

> Download advice on working around waterways

Manual handling
Care should be taken not to overfill bags and ensure that the weight is manageable. If an item is too large to fit in a bin bag you should check the local arrangements for collection before attempting to move it.

Plants/animal bites
It is useful to know if any volunteers have a known allergies (this can be asked as part of the event briefing). Care should be taken around plants and wildlife to minimise the risk.

Disturbing wildlife
It is important that wildlife isn’t disturbed during your event. This is even more important at certain times of the year, for example when birds are nesting. Litter that has been in the environment for a long time may house wildlife, so care must be taken.