Anyone organising a group of volunteers should carry out a risk assessment. This is especially important, as Himalayan Balsam grows on or near river banks, and there is a risk of falling in the water, or otherwise injuring yourself.
You can get help with writing your risk assessment. In Pembrokeshire, Wales, Keep Wales Tidy may be able to help you.
It is also worth asking on the Himalayan Balsam discussion forum whether anyone else has any good examples of risk assessments. If you have a good risk assessment you don’t mind others using, please send it to us, and we can create a link so others can download it.
If you are doing bits of clearance yourself, personal insurance may be sufficient. However, if you are organising a group, you will need to check out what is required.
In some cases, you may be able to apply for insurance, e.g. Keep Wales Tidy has a supported Insurance scheme, which needs the support of a Keep Wales Tidy Officer. There may well be similar opportunities elsewhere. Please let us know if you find any good sources of insurance, which others may benefit from.
You must carry out a risk assessment based on the site and the method of clearing. This will help highlight any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed. Some examples are given below, but these are not exhaustive, and you may find you need additional/ other PPE.
For any type of clearing
- Sunscreen if sunny
- Sun hat
- Good walking boots or Wellington boots
- Water proofs if raining
- Walking stick
For hand pulling the plants
- Gardening gloves
- Possibly some kind of eye protection if you shake the soil off the roots vigorously, or to stop plants going into your eyes when bending down
- Appropriate chemicals and dispensing equipment (see also control page)
- Face mask
- Fully qualified to carry out the treatment!
(in general, follow the guidelines for spraying)
- Strimmer (ensure you are properly trained)
- Face and eye protection
- Ear protection
- Long trousers
For working on boggy ground
Bog mats or lilos may be useful. Any large, light mats that will distribute your weight well and minimise the chance of sinking in. Always work in pairs, and ensure you carry at least one mobile phone to summon help if you need it. Risk assessments are essential when working on boggy ground or river banks.
For working on river banks
- Be extremely careful! Always work in pairs.
- Walking sticks may help with balance
- Consider a harness
- Life jackets may also be advisable
If you have anything to add to this list, please let us know. We’d like the list to be as useful as it can be.