Risk Assessment for TARS (As of January 2024)

Our insurers have informed us that if we do not write a risk assessment for an event they will not pay out in the event of a claim.

Download the general form

Risk assessments are essential at TARS events to protect event organisers and those attending and sometimes, members of the public at large.  If risk assessments are not undertaken, TARS can be found guilty of at least negligence, but quite possibly worse.

How to go about it?

Risk assessments are to be carried out at least two weeks prior to an event, and copy emailed to safeguarding@arthur-ransome.org

First, consider whether you are part of an organised event carrying its own insurance, so a rail trip, using hired equipment such as canoes, or having a meal at a café is covered already.

If you are planning a walk, or a sail day in Tars’ boats, or activities in a village hall then the responsibility is down to us.

So what is the mitigation strategy to minimise risk and assist best recovery?

We can avoid foot injuries on walks by informing people what footwear is recommended which reduces our liability if the participant does not heed your advice.  If the injury is a minor cut, a first aid kit will be needed.

We might consider matching participants to the level of difficulty of the walk.  People usually self-select reasonably accurately, if given sufficient information, but there are always exceptions.  How will you get a casualty back?  Will a foraged crutch and using the first aid kit to bind the ankle suffice? Will there be a phone signal?  Will you be near a road to flag  down a helpful stranger?  Is the party big enough to safely split to get help whilst leaving enough people to support the casualty?

e.g. You cannot bind up a broken ankle and find a stick to act as a crutch for this.  You need outside help.  See the para above.

Some of the best views are from paths with precipitous sides.  People need to be warned.  They know if they suffer from vertigo or are prone to stumbling and so on.  Mitigation: Walk the path yourself the day before to see how slippery, eroded, overgrown and so on the actual route is, so you can advise the group, and have an alternative ready for those that want to back out.

So, for a walk:

  1. Do you have a first-aider? Ensure a first aid kit is brought along.
  2. Always walk the route before making up your invitation, and if there are risk points walk it again the day before to make sure of the level of risk.

Heart attack – if it is a nice typical TARS walk <1%, but Kanchenjunga for the over 70s is a different matter!


Same process but it is the skipper’s responsibility to make sure that the passengers have suitable buoyancy equipment and that it is correctly worn.  We did have an incident where the passengers were not wearing their buoyancy aids correctly rendering them almost useless in the water.  Lesson well learned!

Sailing to the level of understanding of the passengers is good practise and when the weather becomes more challenging, not holding on, but making for port.  A terrified passenger will not obey commands quickly.

By the Water

Ground in and around water is often very slippery, and can be varied in terms of friction/grip. In addition, the ground may pose extra hazards due to sharp rocks, or spiky ground topography. Recent rainfall means water will be colder than sometimes

Wet persons (children and adult) are more susceptible to cold injury (hypothermia).

Reflection of the sun from the water will increase exposure to sun and the risk of sunburn.

Zoonosis-Weil’s disease.

Precautions such as sun cream, extra clothing and will be thought about participants advised to pack these as a precaution.

On the Water

Whether to go on the water should be weather dependent-check what the weather is currently doing and forecasts for the time of the planned event: Be aware that in some circumstances this may change rapidly and there can be big variations such as cross-winds coming down mountains and between trees.

Participants will have varying levels of skill and what is suitable for some individuals may not be safe for others. The RNLI recommend that crew members should be able to swim, but at least be able to float for a good length of time, up to an hour.

Sharing craft -TARS provide 3rd party insurance for members but this is not valid if the craft used does not itself have third party insurance.

Anyone on the water will be encouraged to wear buoyancy aid correctly, and only go on the water when other boats with a competent crew are also on the water in the area- these class as safety cover.

It the boat you are on will not easily recover from capsize stay with the boat unless you are very close to the shore.

Owners need to supervise the launch and recovery of their own craft or delegate this to another experienced person – anyone helping in launch & recovery should follow the directions of the owner/delegate.

Hill Walking

Check what the weather is currently doing and forecasts for the time of the planned event, be aware that in some circumstances this may change rapidly.

At least 2, and preferably 3 people will be able to follow a map and compass with any group walk and route agreed by these in advance of the start. These will be accepted as leaders of the event and ensure the group stay together or support any individual who has to return/wait for rescue.

The route will include cut-short options for change of circumstances/weather/tiredness etc.

Participants are responsible for reporting any health issues which may make the planned walk difficult for them.

Weather extremes – hypothermia,/heat stroke-leaders will curtail the event if the weather dictates this.

Individual participants are responsible for preparing themselves with appropriate footwear, layers for additional warmth or rain protection and protection from heat such as a sun hat.

Mobile phone be aware that there may be limited or no phone signal on the walk for contact with each other.

BUT-a fully charged mobile phone should be taken as emergency services may still be contactable even if your individual signal is not.

J-Blue Safeguarding Officer safeguarding@arthur-ransome.org