Safe system of work: Water management systems

Control Measure Knowledge

When attending incidents on canals, all lock gates and paddles should be completely closed before any rescue attempt. Personnel should not attempt to open the lock gates or paddles to empty the lock as releasing the water can result in strong currents and turbulence downstream.

Personnel should not work in the water near a lock gate without first taking control of the gates, unless there is a threat to life. Where possible, an exclusion zone should be established around the lock gates and paddles. Access to the lock should be via the fixed raking ladder. Mud and silt will be present on the canal bottom and lock walls.

Any attempt to drain the lock should consider the potential of trapping the person. A 50mm gap will create sufficient pressure to pin a person.

Personnel should not enter the operating areas of the pumping station unless confirmation that isolation has been achieved is received from a responsible person. Any related machinery including weed screen cleaners should be isolated prior to a rescue attempt.

Weirs and sluice gates vary greatly in their potential for harm. Personnel should avoid entering these features unless a well-informed risk assessment identifies that it is safe to do so, with appropriate control measures in place.

Fire and rescue services should identify appropriate means of rescue, control measures and exclusion zones for water management systems in their area. It may be beneficial to participate in joint on-site training and exercises to provide personnel with a better understanding of water management systems.

Isolate water movement and holding systems

Automated water management systems may have on-site isolation switches or control panels. To prevent public access, they are usually in a secure location. Activating these systems may affect hydrology in unexpected ways and the effects will vary with levels and speed of flow. Activation will also affect areas remote from the system, including the potential to cause flooding or damage to vessels located up or downstream. Activation should only ever be considered with the permission and advice of the managing agency.

Personnel should not enter an area where there is a water management system until confirmation has been received of its isolation.

For more information refer to lndustry: Isolate power supplies for on-site machinery.

Specialist advice

Water management systems are usually operated by either an environmental agency, canal trust or an internal drainage board. Contact details for engineers and responsible persons for water management systems should be displayed nearby. Fire and rescue services should maintain a record of managers of known water management risks and their contact details as appropriate.

GOV.UK provide information about river level and strong stream warnings for certain areas and rivers. This includes warnings of increased activation of water management systems.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions