J. Health, Safety and Ethical Issues


The quality and diversity of plant collections are frequently the prime concerns for managers, but the safety of premises and the conditions in which the staff work must be of equal concern. Neglect of the safety of staff and visitors alike can have serious consequences; managers of collections must strive for the highest standards of health and safety possible.

In particular, gardens should ensure, so far as is reasonable, that:

  • plant, equipment, systems and methods of work are safe and without risks to health
  • there are suitable arrangements for the safe use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances
  • for any particular job, the employees concerned have sufficient information, instruction, training and supervision to enable them to avoid hazards and to contribute in a positive way to their own safety and health at work
  • a safe means of access and exit is provided for all places of work
  • there is a healthy working environment with adequate welfare services.

While gardens and gardening generally have a good environmental and ethical reputation, it is important that collection managers pay attention to a wide range of ethical issues, such as disabled access for all and the avoidance of discrimination of all types.

PlantNetwork aims to encourage its members to adopt the highest possible standards of health and safety and to pay particular attention to ethical issues.

PlantNetwork has:

  • held a number of conferences that have addressed health and safety or ethical issues:
    • Sustainability of Horticultural Practices at Harrogate in April 2006.
    • Pools of Diversity at Sparsholt, in August 2004
    • Plant Collections in the Twenty-First Century: CBD, CITES and Agenda 21 at Ness Botanic Gardens in October 1998
  • Held a number of Forum Group meetings or training days that discussed these topics, including:
    • Public Access in Arboreta at Dawyck Botanic Garden, in June 2001
    • Commercialisation: Ethics and Intellectual Property Rights at the Chelsea Physic Garden in March 1995

To maintain these achievements, PlantNetwork will:

  • hold a conference to consider health and safety, and ethical issues
  • include articles in the PlantNetwork Newsletter on where to find information in order to comply with existing and new legislation
  • consider delivering training courses on certain aspects of health and safety
  • generally encourage members to comply with health and safety legislation and to adopt high standards with regards to ethical issues
  • bring to the attention of its members current legislation on such issues as employment, health and safety, access for the disabled and equal opportunities, in relation to employees and visitors; and encourage its members to observe and implement it.

As a guide, gardens should ensure they have policy statements on, and/or comply with legislation on, for example, personal protective equipment, noise, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) assessments, pesticide use and storage, transport, storage and distribution of flammable liquids, compressed air systems, manual handling, ladders and scaffold towers, chain-saw work on the ground, aerial chain-saw operations from a rope and harness, tree-climbing operations, lifting tackle, mobile circular saw benches, small horticultural machinery, driving official vehicles, tractor driving, ride-on mowers, work in public areas, sunshine, vibration, tree risk assessments, extreme weather, working in windy conditions and procedures in the event of gale force winds.

The following policies are also relevant in delivering the policy on Health, Safety and Ethical Issues: