Risk assessment

 

 

 

 

UHBC/ULBC Regattas – Chiswick Reach

 

 

 

Introduction

This assessment is designed to cover foreseeable risks in the conduct of the UH Novice regatta, UH Winter regatta, and University of London Allom Cup. These are usually held in the late autumn or winter months, at the weekend, and last for one day only. The foreseeable risks are common to all three events. Boating for these events occurs mainly from University of London boathouse (ULBH), but one club boats from Tideway Scullers School boathouse (TSSBH) but crews may boat from Putney and elsewhere especially in the case of the Allom Cup.

The events are held in accordance with the principles set out in the CPRT.  The events are marshalled in a similar fashion to the various British Rowing affiliated regattas on this stretch including Chiswick Amateur, Barnes & Mortlake and Borne and the risk assessments conducted by these regattas will have considerable overlap with the UH/UL events.

History of the UH/UL regattas.

These events have been held in this location for at least forty years. There have been no fatalities related to the conduct of these events known to the author in this period.

Established accident history (updated August 2016).

There have been three significant incidents since 2000:

2001: A race start in the ULBC Allom Cup collided with a crew crossing against the stream from ULBH resulting in significant injury. Issues were identified relating to the adequacy of look out on the part of the cox of the crew crossing and the failure to identify an obstruction on the part of the relevant marshal involved in starting the race.

2002: An eight capsized on the second pier of the railway bridge on a strong ebb tide whilst being marshalled in a UH regatta. There were no injuries but the boat was written off. Issues identified included the potential for foresight on the part of the relevant marshal which was not acted on.  

2015: Incident report 5383: capsized eight on downriver-most wooden pile on Middlesex side above ULBH during flood racing session of novice regatta. Contributory factors included moderate S-SW tail wind, adequacy of launch-based finish marshal and the course of the two boats conflicting (one turning according to marshalling plan into ULBH and the other turning in the opposite direction to the Surrey in-shore zone in order to return to TSSC). Action plan discussed by UHBC committee:

1.       Minimise use of flood racing pattern where-ever possible (ebb pattern predominates in these events anyway).

2.       Start manager and other key race officials need to monitor wind conditions and stream strength during flood racing; caution with strong cross/tail winds which might drive crews onto the wooden piles or the pier beyond the finish.

3.       In flood races always draw crews who will not be returning to ULBH following the race on the SURREY station so that they can access the Surrey in-shore zone with less potential for conflict (i.e. KCL always drawn on Surrey)

4.       Clarify the flood navigation/marshalling plan to highlight the availability of the ‘figure of eight’ navigation around the UL buoy as a safe alternative to immediately turning into the Middlesex side at ULBH (but note the potential for conflict with other river users and the need for more turning which may not make this suitable for all crews)

5.       Ensure that the tasking of the finish marshal is reviewed carefully, and consider whether placing a licenced umpire at this position would be appropriate when drawing up the duty roster.

Issues relating to watermanship:

There are often lapses in steering of boats from a variety of clubs against the stream along the Surrey side opposite ULBH as the river bends gently to Surrey, with the result that crews often swing into the centre of the steam when proceeding against an ebb tide despite the provisions of CPRT. This comment relates to all oared boats in the area.

There may be lapses in watermanship in competing crews either at the point of turning or during the race, with the possibility of crews departing from the course and potentially infringing the starboard hand rule. This is particularly likely in the novice event (but not exclusively so), with individual competitors with limited racing experience and the ever present risk of catching crabs and similar mishaps. However the event is run on the basis of providing such experience in a relatively safe environment and all officials need to be prepared to provide appropriate support.

Issues relating to inexperienced officials:

These events rely on a number of relatively inexperienced officials to assist the chief umpire. The number of races involved is usually quite small and usually the chief umpire is able to control the event from the start area.

The key race official positions will be filled by licenced umpires subject to their availability.

The UL based clubs provide the other officials. In general these will be nominated by club captains on the basis of previous experience and all officials in each event will have previous experience of the event either as a competitor or official.

 

The flood finish marshalling role is one which requires careful tasking given the potential difficulties in this area.

 

There is an officials’ briefing before each event which has the same format for each event in keeping with briefing prior to affiliated events.

 

Course of competitors

 

The 2015 incident has resulted in a review of the course to be followed by competitors in the event. In general, the course followed by boats on the ebb racing pattern is in keeping with the other affiliated regattas on this course and no changes are required. The flood racing pattern finish has been clarified to ensure that crews understand the danger of the fixed obstructions at the upriver end of the course. These events are different to the affiliated regattas on this course as the vast majority of crews will need to return to UL rather than MAA or Quintin (which requires turning to the Surrey ISZ as a matter of course) 

 

Crews should ensure that they do not attempt to turn across each other at the end of the flood course; and that unless it is safe to turn immediately to Middlesex crews should proceed upriver in accordance with the (revised) course diagram. Crews should either perform a ‘figure of eight’ around the UL buoy or proceed upriver on the stream until they reach the gap between the Kew RZs. However if crews opt for the ‘figure of eight’ then they are in danger of potential conflict with other vessels in the fairway or the ISZ and this requires careful monitoring by the finish marshal, who should be suitably experienced.

 

Risk Assessment Matrix

 

Most likely severity of harm

 

Likelihood of harm

 

Slight harm

 

Moderate harm

Extreme harm

Very unlikely

 

Very low risk

1

Low risk

2

Low risk

3

Unlikely

 

Low risk

4

Medium risk

5

Medium risk

6

Likely

 

Medium risk

7

Medium risk

8

High risk

9

Very likely

 

Medium risk

10

High risk

11

Very high risk

1

 

Note that the risk assessment matrix is a subjective tool and the individual cells are numbered for reference purposes only. Updated in accordance with suggested risk level estimator: Row Safe 2008 v1 section 1.2

 

Key risk

Measured variable

Risk level

Risk rating

Mitigation

Responsibility

Increased fluvial flow  

(ebb stream)

PLA fluvial flow flag

Green flag

Green

Nil

N/A

Yellow flag

Amber

Consider: exclusion of novice crews; scheduling races in nominal flood stream

CORC (CU)

Aim for decision > 24 hours prior to race time

Red flag

Red

Cancel or defer racing; consider scheduling races for competent crews in nominal flood stream

CORC (CU)

Aim for decision > 24 hours prior to race time

High wind speeds

Forecasted wind direction and speed

Forecast Gusts < 25mph

Green

Course inspection by CU prior to racing

CORC (CU)

 

Forecast Gusts 25-35mph

Amber

Decision may need to be made on race day following change of tide  based on course inspection by CU and review of actual wind speed and direction

Consider:

1.    Continue with racing

2.    Cancel or defer racing

3.    Shortening of course (?)

If the wind direction is S – SW with an ebb stream then the course may be relatively sheltered.

CORC (CU)

Decision may need to be made on race day following change of tide.

Care with high wind speeds from cross or tail direction (S or SE) on the flood stream at the finish.

Forecast Gusts > 35mph

Red

Decision may need to be made on race day following change of tide based on course inspection by CU and review of actual wind speed and direction  (note that forecast may > actual gust speeds)

Consider:

1.    Cancel or defer racing

2.    Continue with racing

3.    Shortening of course (?)

If the wind direction is S – SW with an ebb stream then the course may be relatively sheltered even with gusts of > 35mph.

CORC (CU)

Decision may need to be made on race day following change of tide.

Care with high wind speeds from cross or tail direction (S or SE) on the flood stream at the finish.

 
 
 

 

Risk

Issues

Probability of accident

Likely severity

Risk estimation

Control measures

1

Risk of collision with other oared boat, powered vessel or fixed obstruction

 

Novice and inexperienced coxes.

Coxswains fail to attend coxswains’ pre-race meeting Lack of adherence to marshalling instructions

 

Likely

Slight Harm

Medium

7

UH/ULBC sets basic minimum coxing experience criteria (min 30 outings);

attendance register at coxes meeting;

UH/ULBC places emphasis on responsibilities of individual club captains to ensure compliance with marshalling instructions and attendance at coxswains’ meeting.

Club captains responsible for ensuring that novice crews are not coxed by novice coxes.

Ensure marshalling launches in correct position throughout marshalling and race.

Ensure designated safety launch in position and available throughout; if primary safety launch responding to incident then CORC to either designate another launch as back-up safety or suspend racing until primary safety launch available.

launches in correct position throughout marshalling and race.

2

Radio communication failure

Immersion of handset/ severe rain

Handset battery failure

Handset failure.

Unlikely

Slightly harmful

Low

4

Mobile phones as back-up

Total system failure will require the UH/UL control to consider suspension of event.

3

Use of inexperienced race officials

Use of relatively junior personnel (student based)

Limited availability of licenced umpires

Likely

Slight harm

Medium

7

Briefing by chief umpire

Invitation of other licenced umpires by CU to fill key race official positions

Overall control by chief umpire waterborne in start area

Adherence to radio code

Ensure racing timetable suitable intervals (especially in Allom Cup - > 6 minutes)

4

Lack of functioning launches

Borrowed launches.

Engine failure/ lack of petrol during event; but 4 other launches in action

Launch failure prior to event, with no available spare

Very unlikely

Slight

Harm

Very Low

1

 

 

The regatta will not commence without four fully functioning launches (excluding safety). If a launch failure occurs during the regatta, then the UH/UL control will take immediate steps to identify a reserve launch. If one is not available, then the control/CU will review whether suspension of racing is appropriate.

If reduced to four launches then these will take up positions 2-5 only.

5

Inadequate launch safety equipment

Borrowed equipment

(responsibility rests with the individual club captains)

Very unlikely

Moderate

Harm

Low

2

Attention must be paid by UH/UL control in checking launches in advance. UH/ULBC to identify responsibility of individual club captains to provide equipment in line with British Rowing ‘Row safe’.

6

Immersion in the Tideway

Risk of immersion, hypothermia and drowning.

 

Very unlikely

Extreme Harm

Low

3

All private matches based at ULBH will have appropriate rescue boat provision from recognised provider.

The regatta cannot commence without adequate safety boat cover.

Event will designate a further launch as ‘back-up’ if the safety boat is dealing with an incident.

Back up via RNLI if needed.

All coxes will wear buoyancy aids/lifejackets in line with BR Row safe

Rowers will need to satisfy individual clubs regarding competence to swim; if not competent then they must wear an appropriate buoyancy aid or lifejacket.

If rowers are competent to swim then they will not wear specific buoyancy aids in line with national standards for rowing as set out in BR Row Safe

7

Medical evacuation

LAS ambulance.

Evacuation route via ULBH

Very unlikely

Extreme Harm

Low

3

CU medically qualified.

Other officials will also have basic life support provision ability.

LAS outside of UH/ULBC control.

Designated primary evacuation route via ULBH.

8

Fast ebb stream conditions (high fluvial flow)

PLA ‘flag’ system

Greater chance of high fluvial flows during winter months

Likely

Extreme harm

High risk

9

CU and organising committee to review ebb flow rates over previous few days, and aim for early notification (>24 hours) to competitors about changes to the planned events.

If ‘red’ flag then event may not proceed on the ebb and no oared boats should be allowed on the Tideway; rowing may be possible during the time between low and high water but the stream speed may still be high and on the ebb and the CU & organising committee may sanction senior crews only to race in this period provided there is a direct assessment of conditions immediately prior to such racing.

If ‘amber’ flag then only senior crews may boat on the ebb and the CU and organising committee may sanction senior crews to race in this period provided that there is a direct assessment of conditions immediately prior to such racing. It may be possible for the CU and organising committee to sanction intermediate and novice crews to race during the period between low and high water but only if there has been a direct assessment of conditions immediately prior to such racing. No crews comprising members who have less than two term’s rowing experience should boat during the ebb stream in ‘amber’ flag conditions.

9

Poor weather conditions

High wind speeds

Heavy rain

Limited visibility

Fog

Likely

Extreme harm

High risk

9

CU and organising committee to review weather forecasts over previous few days and aim for early notification (>24 hours) to competitors about adverse weather conditions.

If gusts are forecast >30mph in a direction parallel to the river and against the stream then there is a high likelihood of unrowable conditions especially near high water. Care should be taken when there is a strong cross to tail wind on the flood as this may cause dangerous conditions beyond the finish.

However the Mortlake reach is relatively sheltered from the prevailing southwest wind direction, especially in the area of the ebb marshalling area and turning point and it may not be possible to accurately predict the impact of high wind speed on the water conditions until the time of the event.

If there is doubt then the organising committee will instruct a delay in boating from ULBH and TSSC until there has been a course inspection by the CU.

Heavy rain or other climatic conditions may temporarily reduce visibility and the CU will monitor the situations during the event.

If the visibility is reduced such that the railway bridge cannot be seen clearly across the width of the river from the balcony of ULBH then the event should be suspended.

10

Navigation of powered vessels in regatta area

Navigation of other vessels must not be impeded

Adequate look-out by coxes, marshals, umpires

Likely

Slight harm

Medium

7

Limited volume of powered vessel traffic on Tideway in the autumn/winter

PLA notice to mariners to cover all events

Effective use of bank marshal 4 (spotter) downriver of race finish to advise of oncoming vessels; to liaise with start.

Experience of race starter/marshals

Monitoring of VHF channel 14 by CU (VHF licenced).

11

Watermanship of competitors proceeding to marshalling area

·      Failure of cox to keep adequate look-out.

 

·      Failure to adhere to PLA byelaws & CPRT

Likely

Slight harm

Medium

7

See 1 above;

Supervision by 5 launches, as detailed below;

Pre-race information to coxes, only experienced coxes (30 hours experience minimum) permitted to race;

Care to be taken when proceeding to the marshalling zone to avoid crews proceeding in the opposite direction (i.e. racing crews);

Launch 2 (ebb races) and Launch 4 (flood races) will advise crews boating from ULBH if it is unsafe to cross due to a race in progress.

Supervision of CPRT rules in inshore zone

12

Supervision of marshalling areas

·      Failure to adhere to rules set out in CPRT

 

·         Too many boats in marshalling area

 

·         At low tide greater risk of obstruction of in-shore zone

 

·         Risk of external crew boating from ULBH not adhering to the CPRT (especially not keeping an adequate look-out or giving way when crossing the fairway)

Likely

Slight harm

Medium

7

3 launches in marshalling area;

Marshals in this area generally under direct supervision of CU;

Pre-race instruction to coxes, experienced coxes only;

At low tide consider use  of extra marshal on bank in marshalling area to hold crews on the shore line (in conjunction with coxes) to keep marshalling crews out of way of other oared boats.

If the number of competitors increases in the marshalling area to more than TEN boats then a second launch should be made available to supervise the crews and further boats held back at ULBH until the problem is resolved

Start manager/aligner and race umpire to take account of other river users not complying with CPRT especially at the ebb start with other clubs boating from ULBH.

13

Turning of competitors and alignment  on the stream

Failure to recognise restricted zones;

Novice boats have a larger turning circle;

Failure of cox to keep adequate look-out;

Failure of marshalling launch to supervise turning;

Crews moving too far onto the port aspect of the fairway during turning manoeuvre (especially around UL buoy)

Likely

Slightly

harm

Medium

7

·         Adequate supervision by marshalling launch assisted by umpires launch;

·         Adequacy of experience of race officials – use of licenced umpires;

·         Area under direct supervision of start manager during racing periods;

·         Start manager/aligner and race umpire to take account of other river users not complying with CPRT especially at the ebb start with other clubs boating from ULBH.

·         Pre-race information to coxes, experienced coxes only;

·         Flood start: Spin promptly into the fairway and paddle carefully through Chiswick bridge and easy outside the restricted zone on the appropriate station.

·         Ebb start: Spin tightly around the UL buoy and easy immediately, avoid going too far over to Middlesex and entanglement with wooden piles;

·         The start manager will take great care to avoid starting races when there is other river traffic in the vicinity of the start area.

·         Attention by officials to keep crews on stream in correct position.

14

Conduct of the race

·      Coxes’ attention drawn away from proper watermanship

·      Failure to keep proper look-out

·      Failure to adhere to PLA byelaws

·      Difficulty in communication between marshal & cox

 

 

 

 

Unlikely

 

 

 

 

Likely

 

 

 

 

Moderate harm

 

 

 

Slight harm

 

 

 

 

Medium

5

 

 

 

Medium

7

 

·         Use of licenced umpires;

·         Launches equipped with adequate megaphone and flags;

·         All races two abreast only (excepting those taken entirely by experienced  licenced umpires in accordance with TRRC code);

·         Pre-race information to coxes

·         Most of course under supervision by CU from start;

 

 

 

15

Race finish and turning

·         Flood finish close to jetty and Railway Bridge restricted zone

·         Ebb finish – possibility of drifting down to Ship crossing

Unlikely[1]

Extreme harm

Medium

6

·         Umpires to ensure boats able to turn safely away from restricted zone before launch returns to start area;

·         Dedicated finish marshal

·         Novice crews coxed by experienced coxes;

·         Procedure for turning in pre-race information to coxes

·         Ebb finish - ensure crews do not stop in  Chiswick Bridge restricted zone & they exit before turning

·         Flood finish - Minimise use of flood racing pattern where-ever possible;

CU and other key race officials need to monitor wind conditions and stream strength during flood racing; caution with strong cross/tail winds which might drive crews onto the wooden piles or the pier beyond the finish;

In flood races always draw crews who will not be returning to ULBH following the race on the SURREY station so that they can access the Surrey in-shore zone with less potential for conflict (i.e. KCL always drawn on Surrey);

Clarify the flood navigation/marshalling plan to highlight the availability of the ‘figure of eight’ navigation around the UL buoy as a safe alternative to immediately turning into the Middlesex side at ULBH (but note the potential for conflict with other river users and the need for more turning which may not make this suitable for all crews)

Ensure that the tasking of the finish marshal is reviewed carefully, and consider whether placing a licenced umpire at this position would be appropriate when drawing up the duty roster.

16

Watermanship of returning crews

·         Adherence to PLA byelaws

·         Failure to proceed in in-shore zone in accordance with CPRT

·         Crews retuning to ULBH against ebb stream crossing across racing crews

Unlikely

Moderate harm

Medium

5

·         Marshalling launches to ensure crews turned and following correct course back to boathouse.

·         Emphasis on proper navigation in in-shore zone at coxes’ and marshals’ meeting.

·         Start manager/aligner to ensure races not started without course being clear.

Prepared by Dr J Mitchell MBBS FRCA FFICM MSc (risk management)

President, UHBC

In conjunction with ULBC

Revised Aug 2016

 

 

[1] Based on experience from 1997 onwards, note 2015 capsize at flood finish



 
 

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