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Working near water or other liquids

Hazard Knowledge

For the purposes of this guidance ‘working near water or other liquids’ is considered to be working within three metres. This distance may be adjusted following a risk assessment. 

Working near water, or other liquids, presents a hazard; personnel could accidentally enter the water or liquid, with the risk of: 

  • Submersion 
  • Entanglement 
  • Cold water shock 
  • Hypothermia 
  • Contamination 
  • Drowning 

The risk of accidental entry into the water or liquid may depend upon the nature of operational activity being performed, and the necessity to work in the area. 

The environment surrounding the water or liquid may increase the risk of accidental entry. The factors that may affect this include: 

  • Underfoot conditions 
  • Stability of the surrounding area 
  • Gradient 
  • Lack of guarding or barriers 
  • Weather conditions 
  • Visibility 

For more information on personnel working on or in water, see National Operational Guidance: Water rescue and flooding – Working environment: Water rescue and flooding

For more information on operational activity in the context of docks, harbours, marinas, canals and rivers, see National Operational Guidance: Transport