Mark Allen, aged 18, drowned after jumping into a freezing reservoir on a hot day in June 2018. In May 2019 we watched whilst 3 throwlines were installed where he died. Mark could have possibly been saved if they were in place beforehand.
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We, Mark’s family and friends, feel that the Government should require by law that throwlines are placed in designated places around every reservoir, Lake, canal etc.
Speaking to people who work in water safety (fire services etc) such throwlines have saved many lives.
We want to save lives and save people from going through the heartbreak and tragedy of losing someone they love to drowning.
Thursday 1st July 2021
This tragic loss of life highlights the importance of landowner's responsibility to assess and act on the risks posed by open bodies of water on their land.
Accidental drowning is a terrible tragedy for the victim and their families and highlights the importance of everyone being aware of the risks posed by water. The risks posed by open bodies of water should be assessed and acted on by the responsible landowner.
The majority of reservoirs are owned by the major water companies. The Environment Agency manages rivers and the Canal and Rivers Trust manage the canal network and all have a responsibility to ensure these are safe.
Local authorities will be responsible for a minority of bodies of water, including some beaches, and as a result the Local Government Association (LGA) has produced a water safety toolkit for councils, to ensure both locals and visitors enjoy the natural environment safely whether on the coast or inland.
It shows the importance of everyone being aware of the risks posed by water. This toolkit suggests a number of ways councils might seek to work in partnership to tackle water safety in their area. Councils want communities to enjoy open spaces and leisure facilities in their areas and to ensure that both locals and visitors enjoy the natural environment safely. This toolkit is to help councils create a partnership and plan to do that. Details of the toolkit can be found here: https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/community-safety/water-safety-toolkit
The LGA first produced a water safety toolkit for councils in 2017. They have since updated the toolkit, drawing on the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) work on creating a water safety action group and local water safety plan and their previous work.
Their document, A practical implementation guide to setting up a Water Safety Action Group and designing a local Water Safety Plan, can be found on their website (https://www.rlss.org.uk/) and provides a comprehensive look at these issues. This toolkit provides an overview of the steps councils should consider when looking at water safety in their local area.
Employers and the self-employed, whose undertaking includes work activity close to open water, are required under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, to take steps to prevent employees and other people from coming to harm due to their work activities.
The methods of achieving this are not set down in law and may differ depending on the particular characteristics of the site and the circumstances. For example, a perimeter wall or fence around an irrigation reservoir or slurry pit will help to control risks. However where open access to water is encouraged for leisure purposes controls might, depending on the circumstances, include the provision of throwlines or other rescue devices, as part of a range of measures, recognising the advantages and disadvantages of providing such devices in terms of their limited effectiveness when used by untrained people, and the ongoing requirement for monitoring and maintenance.
Much of the open water throughout Great Britain while often used for recreational purposes, is not associated with ongoing work activity that comes under remit of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, and as such, even if they were deemed appropriate at all locations, throwlines could not be made mandatory under Health and Safety legislation.
In terms of public safety at sea and at our coasts, Her Majesty’s Coastguard, part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will coordinate rescue missions, at these locations, drawing on a matrix of available search and rescue resources including lifeboats, helicopters and volunteer Coastguard Rescue Teams, and vessels in close proximity of an incident.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government