Risk Assessment

Planning & Risk Assessment
Scroll down for garden and individual risk assessment information, templates and examples

Latest Scottish Government Guidance

Latest update 27th January 2021 - For new guidance for community food growing spaces incorporating the  5th January stricter measures, see this link: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-community-food-growing-spaces/

Update 4th January 2021 - From 5th January 2021, the Scotttish Government is implementing stricter measures to prevent the spread of Covid 19. People are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except for essential purposes, such as local outdoor recreation, caring and food shopping. These new regulations on staying at home and an explanation of essential puproses are set out here  https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/

Scottish Governmen Protection Levels. See the postcode checker to find the level that applies in your area at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/pages/protection-level-1/

November 2020 This guidance refers to community growing sites such as community gardens and allotments, including community growing areas of allotment sites. Subject to compliance with the Covid-19 guidance regarding social distancing, cleaning and sanitising and travel amongst others, the following points are notable: 

Local authorities and others with responsibility for community food-growing areas may now reopen these sites as part of the additional outdoor activity that is permitted, subject to compliance with the general virus protection guidance. 
It NOW INCLUDES the 6 people/2 household rule for indoor and outdoor communal activities with exceptions for 'organised' activities. 'Organised' activities are defined  in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 as

'(4) For the purpose of paragraph (1)(b)(v) and (vi), an activity or exercise is “organised” if it is organised by—

(a)a person who is responsible for carrying on a business or providing a service,
(b)a person who is responsible for a place of worship,
(c)a charity or other not for profit organisation,
(d)a club or political organisation, or
(e)the governing body of a sport or other activity.'

Carers are permitted to attend gatherings to support a person, and not be counted in the total numbers, see https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-staying-safe-and-protecting-others/pages/gatherings-and-occasions/
In particularl the paragraph referring to 'Gatherings and occasions' covers this point - 

'Gatherings inside or outside for social interactions and which include more than one household are still limited except for the following exceptions:
• where a gathering is of people from up to two households (indoors or outdoors). If someone from one of those households requires a carer, from another household, to assist them for their health and wellbeing, that carer is also permitted to attend.'

Track & Trace Some gardening projects are gathering individual's contact details as part of the Track & Trace  (Test & Protect ) programme. If you want to do this it's important to keep contact details confidential and stored securely for 21 days. One project manages admissions by only allowing admission to the garden to those prepared to complete a Track & Trace form. These short paper forms once completed are posted in a lockable box  - collated weekly and stored securely in a dated envelope at the project. Envelope and contents are burnt (or you could shred) after 21 days. 

There is some guidance on how to gather Track & Trace details whilst respecting GDPR (data protection) legislation at the 'Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test and Protect: multi-sector guidance on collection of customer and visitor contact details – July 2020' web pages - https://www.gov.scot/publications/test-protect-multi-sector-guidance-collection-customer-visitor-contact-details-july-2020/pages/1/ 

The document has been designed as 'a tool to support customer and visitor data gathering for businesses and other establishments in Scotland ... It sets out how to collect individual contact details in a safe and secure manner which is compliant with data protection legislation, to assist NHS Scotland in responding to outbreaks of COVID-19.'

The document emphasises that it's important to ensure that data is collected and handled in line with data protection laws. Some of the main points to help you make sure you are compliant with data protection regulations are below:

  • Establish if you need to register your organisation with the ICO to collect contact details - use the registration self-assessment checker at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-fee/self-assessment/  
  • Where members of the public are attending as a small household group, the contact details for one member - a 'lead member' - will be sufficient alongside the size of the group.
  • The Scottish Government has published a template (download /print) Privacy Notice, setting out the terms of how data should be gathered, stored, used and disposed of. The privacy notice is how your business or organisation will demonstrate compliance with Article 13 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that sets out what information needs to be provided when data are collected from the data subject (e.g. customers, visitors, staff). 
  • Poster to display showing reason for Test & Protect and taking contact details, available to download /print - A4 Poster
  • Contact details should be kept securely for 21 days - For information on Secure Collection, Storage and Disposal of Data, see  https://www.gov.scot/publications/test-protect-multi-sector-guidance-collection-customer-visitor-contact-details-july-2020/pages/4/
  • Further information on How the data will be used, how you as an organisation will be contacted etc. is contained in the document online.


In the Community Food Growing guidance  https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-community-food-growing-spaces/ there is a full list of measures that should be communicated to volunteers and users of community food-growing spaces in advance of their attendance. The list includes,

  • Compliance with physical distancing of 2 metres including, if necessary, limiting the number of people within the site at any one time and/or considering a one-way system on site (together with any necessary signage)
  • The sharing of tools, food, gloves etc is strongly discouraged. Users and volunteers at sites should be encouraged to bring their own gloves. Any on site tools should be disinfected after each use and stowed by one nominated person.
  • The use of face coverings in polytunnels and greenhouses should be encouraged where physical distancing is difficult. Vents should be opened to maximise air flow. People must not congregate in a polytunnel, greenhouse or other on site indoor space


The F.A.C.T. S. and 'Hands. Face. Space.' are offered as reminders:

  • Face coverings in enclosed spaces (such as public transport)
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Clean your hands and surfaces regularly
  • Two metres social distancing
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you develop coronavirus symptoms

The 'Hands. Face. Space.' campaign urges the public to continue to wash their hands, cover their face and make space to control infection rates and avoid a second peak.

You can find posters and signs to download and print to reinforce these messages on the government websites.

If you have any doubts/queries about your project/community space re-opening, check with your insurance provider and local council first of all.

 For further clarification and interpretation of the guidelines, contact your local council office – they should have a member of staff available to help with further explanation. 


Risk Assessment

Example of a Risk Assessment for a gardening projectwith thanks to Tayport Community Garden, used in conjunction with their Individual Risk Asessment and Induction (Template), approved by Fife Council as an example of good practice.

Risk Assessment is key to safely running your gardening group  -  carrying out risk assessment and suggestions of what to include/consider 

Coronavirus COVID-19  Return to Work Risk Assessment Overview, Guidance and Template

Practical Information on minimising the risk of virus spread

Differing physical layouts and client need, require creative management to minimise the spread of coronavirus e.g. one project has fastened its gates open, as they were identified as being the one place everyone touched. Common steps include: use a rota system to admit two people at a time, use daily exercise quota to garden,  observe social distancing measures in the garden. Here are a few examples of protocols in use:

HTA Safe Trading Guidance implemented 29th May 2020 (Phase 1 Scotland) - lots of practical tips on how to protect staff and customers - through physical distancing protocols, examples of site control, queueing, till procedures, signage, employee protocols.

Hand washing outdoors/lack of traditional soap and water facilities?
Consider making a Tippy Tap, with this World Health Organisation YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miF5B8oOIrw

Or see this this Creative Star article for further ideas and discussions around hand washing outdoors https://creativestarlearning.co.uk/early-years-outdoors/hand-hygiene-outdoors/?fbclid=IwAR0oNM6qkHEfAJ3V3sThpNpGGIYiu9zZU6m_6X26YQhbV8ZOfiTpnXlEhL4

Resources from Phase 1 and the early lockdown period

Implementation on 28th May 2020 of the Scottish Government Phase 1 Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making, including

• Non- essential outdoor workplaces with physical distancing resume once relevant guidance agreed
• Beginning to safely restart NHS services, covering primary, and community services including mental health
• Gradual resumption of key support services at the community level
• Unrestricted outdoor exercise with physical distancing measures
• Max no. 8 people can gather from 2 households, outdoors

Essential Travel - what if you're employed at a gardening project more than 5 miles from home?
Carry ID and a letter from your organisation authorising your travel  to work or this one, authorising garden maintenance 

General protocols and best practice based on UK Government guidance and Trellis network suggestions 07/05/2020

Gardening in an allotment in a community garden protocol - Thanks to a community garden in the Borders for making this available to share

A community garden protocol - Thanks to a community garden in the East of Scotland for sharing this

Example of a Garden Information Notice - Thanks to an Edinburgh care project for this one

Escape Allotment, Norfolk -  20 clients a week gardening since April 2020

Incredible Edible Lambeth - considering distributing seedlings to their community see their plan and risk assessment 

National Allotment Society - information on managing allotment spaces 

 Managing forced garden neglect through lockdown - Garden Organic's suggestions as to how to manage a plot if you can't get to it at all.