Foreshore Health & Safety
Information from the Thames Explorer Trust on working on the foreshore, especially relevant to members of the public
Information for working in tidal areas provided by the Health & Safety Executive
Tide tables for the Thames provided by the Port of London Authority
Health and Safety Advice
Working on the tidal Thames can be a risky business, but following a few health and safety rules means that you can protect yourself from potential hazards. Each foreshore site is different, and each group of people working there will have different abilities and requirements. As part of our work on the foreshore, we carry out risk assessments before we work on all our sites, and we will give FROG members working on site a full induction to each site before work starts. The risk assessment helps us decide if the areas we want to work in are safe enough, and allows us to decide whether we can go ahead with site visits. The health and safety checklist is a useful baseline for any activty on the foreshore.
There are a number of potential hazards working near the river Thames – safe access to site; the risk of being caught by the tide and at worst, drowning; slips, trips and falls; injury caused by vegetation such as brambles, giant hogweed and nettles; the danger from discarded hypodermic needles; risk of injury from equipment and illness from contaminated water – and this list is not exhaustive! It is essential that every FROG member has undertaken a full health and safety induction. All the TDP staff hold first aid certificates, and will be the nominated first aiders for the foreshore events when present.
A Few Essentials to Remember:
Make sure your tetanus jab is up-to-date
Wear wellingtons, old clothes, a warm jacket and bring waterproof gloves.
Carry only essentials and preferably in something that can get dirty.
Cover any cuts or abrasions on your hands and feet with waterproof plasters
Never eat, drink or smoke whilst on the foreshore
Never go on the foreshore alone
Always carry a fully charged mobile phone in case you need to call the coastguard/lifeboat
Avoid muddy areas and walk on stone or shingle
Weil’s Disease: What is it?
Weil’s disease or leptospirosis is a rare but serious bacterial disease which causes liver and kidney damage and, in 5 – 10% of cases, can be fatal. It is spread in water and soil contaminated by the urine of rats, voles, and other rodents, as well as cattle, foxes and other wild animals. The disease is especially associated with urban waterways and slowmoving rivers, and there are higher levels of risk after heavy rain, when drains and other areas inhabited by rats have been flushed out. The bacteria can survive in water or wet environments for up to 45 days after leaving their host animal. Humans become infected when their cuts or mucous membranes (ears, eyes, mouth, nose) are exposed to contaminated water or soil. (Information from Thames21)
Preventing Weil’s Disease
Cover all cuts and abrasions on your hands and feet with a waterproof plaster.
Wear waterproof footwear.
Never touch your eyes, ears, mouth etc without washing your hands first.
Wash hands throughly before eating, handling food or smoking.
Wash all body areas that come into contact with river water.
Wear gloves and use the antiseptic handrub provided by the TDP team.
Raised temperature and/or ‘chill’ feeling.
Pain in joints or muscles, often more pronounce in the calf muscles.
General feeling of an influenza-like illness
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms after a possible exposure, see a doctor immediately. tell your GP that you may have been exposed to contaminated water and mention Weil’s disease. The disease is confirmed by an ELISA blood test and is easily treatable with antibiotics in its early stages.
The incubation period varies from 2 – 21 days.