Insurance and Leading Events


The club is insured through the WCA so that official club events led by competent leaders are insured.

If you are taking part in our activities you are advised to obtain your own insurance for personal injury, death, disablement and/or loss of boats or equipment or third party losses, as these losses would only be covered if it could be proved that the Club has been negligent in the organisation or delivery of the event.

The Club Rules require that all paddling activities must have at least three boats on the water at all times and appropriate safety equipment and precautions must be used/taken. Any events run with fewer boats are not covered by the WCA insurance.

Leading Events

Anyone posting an event on the club website must ensure that they have the experience and equipment to run and lead the event safely. Therefore leaders must decide whether any particular individual can take part and should be aware that the Club will always support any decision to exclude anyone who in the leaders opinion cannot safely take part. The Club will also fully support any decision not to run an event for safety reasons.

If the leader allows or encourages others to take part and they are unable to participate safely due to inexperience or lack of ability then the leader will be responsible for any accident that may occur. If you are the most experienced participant, even if you are not the leader, you will still be responsible at law for any accident due to negligence if your level of experience should enable you to ascertain that the activity is unsafe and you did not intervene to prevent the accident.

Leaders should remember that beginners cannot safely judge dangers due to lack of experience and will often overestimate their own ability or will remain silent even though they lack the skill to proceed. Anyone leading an event must satisfy themselves that they are able to deal effectively with the worst case scenario that might occur on the activity they want to lead. This will include, as a minimum, first aid knowledge and kit, means of attracting attention, and a mobile phone. In addition leaders must familiarise themselves with standard safety practice for the particular activity and ensure this is followed. You must also read and follow the appropriate club risk assessments for the activity. You should continue to assess the risks throughout the activity and be ready to abort at any time if you consider it appropriate.

Don't let this put you off having fun and excitement, but don't confuse fun with putting others in danger or through unnecessary stress. See the page on Safety, and the general Risk Assessment below, for more information.

HWKC - General Risk Assessment for Open Canoeing and Kayaking

Version 1.1 October 2007 pdw

This Risk Assessment is provided to give leaders and participants guidance as to the standards and precautions to be expected when taking part in Club activities. It is designed to ensure that everyone can have fun on the water in the knowledge that they are protected from harm to a reasonable degree. It does not guarantee safety but it gives sensible advice to minimise risk. Leaders will need to carry out dynamic risk assessments throughout the activity and act appropriately when circumstances are not covered by this document.

General risk control measures:

Leaders of Club activities must hold the appropriate BCU coach qualification or have experience over several seasons and a variety of locations and grades of difficulty for the proposed activity. Leaders must equip themselves with appropriate knowledge of the particular venue. They must also have experience of more challenging grades of water and conditions than they find on the day. Leaders must be able to rescue others, control the group and administer first aid, they must plan for emergency situations and know the procedure to be followed for different types of incident. All activities must commence with a group briefing covering hazards, safety, group control, signals, emergency action, any participant illnesses, water confidence and roles.

Leaders should ensure that they and the participants are fit to undertake the activity. Participants exhibiting signs of exhaustion, illness, or the influence of drugs or alcohol must not be allowed to participate. No activity is acceptable if it includes the consumption of alcohol before paddling.

The following are Club rules to which there are no exceptions:-

No club water based activity shall take place with less than three participants

A properly fitted buoyancy aid must be worn at all times on the water

All participants will abide by the instructions and decisions of the activity leader

Where an individual is unsure of their ability to run an event they must seek authorisation from the club Training Officer before posting details on the events calendar. The Club will always support the decision of a leader to cancel, abort, or change the location of, an activity for safety reasons

HazardFrequency in paddlesports generally
1 - 5
Worst Case Severity
1 - 5
Control Measures
Impact of individual with vehicle251. Leaders to ensure vehicles are parked safely, so that participants are not likely to be hit by vehicles on bends in roads, narrow roads, etc or be backed into in lay-bys or car parks.
2. Avoid having to unload boats and equipment with back to traffic.
Loading and unloading boats causing musculo-skeletal injuries341.Training in manual handling to be a part of all beginners sessions and repeated occasionally for other club members.
2.Ensure muscles are warmed and loosened prior to lifting. Get out of vehicle and have a wander around / warm up before unloading.
3.Use of correct lifting techniques
4.Minimise lifting and carrying by: sharing, use of slings, trolleys, minimal carry distance, heavy boats to be carried by strong people.
General paddling causing musculo-skeletal injuries341.Ensure proper stretching and warm up routine is carried out as an integral introduction to every paddle.
2.Train paddlers in appropriate paddling techniques that avoid injury.
3.Ensure training in rescue techniques that avoid excessive strain when handling waterlogged boats and heavy paddlers in the water.
Risk of entrapment following capsize of closed cockpit kayaks251.All beginners to be briefed and trained in correct means of exit following a capsize
2.Leaders to ensure appropriate footwear
3.All boats are to be fitted with fail safe or full plate footrests
Drowning251.Leaders must be trained in rescue methods for capsized boats
2.Rolling to be a priority in training schemes
3.Appropriate safety and rescue methods for type of craft and water being paddled will be included in club training schemes.
4.Leaders must be fully conversant with appropriate safety and rescue methods for type of craft and water being paddled
5.Leaders must be trained to carry out resuscitation techniques
6.All paddlers to wear a correctly sized and fitted buoyancy aid on the water
Hypothermia351.Leaders to ensure all paddlers are appropriately clothed for the activity
Leaders to have available spare clothing, hot drink and high energy foods.
For trips leaders will ensure group carries appropriate equipment to deal with mild and severe hypothermia
Leaders to ensure that they take particular care of capsize victims
All club members to undertake training that includes preventing, diagnosing and dealing with hypothermia
Allergic reaction, seizure, coma or other life threatening onset of illness251.Leaders to check if any paddlers have serious illnesses such as diabetes, epilepsy, allergy or asthma before paddling
2.Leader to ensure appropriate medicines (e.g. inhaler, epi pen, etc) are easily available or not allow such paddlers afloat
3.Leaders trained in first aid
Severe Weather351.Leader to obtain reliable local weather forecast and be ready to change plans as appropriate
2.Plans to include suitable emergency escape routes / refuges
3.Plans to allow for worst possible weather / swell / spate
Waterborne disease251.Water quality to be assessed prior to event
2.All cuts and grazes to be covered with waterproof plasters
3.Hands to be washed before eating
4.Equipment to be rinsed with clean fresh water after each activity
Conflict with access advice on inland waters be aware of dangers of fencing blocking/crossing rivers
2.Act considerately and in a non confrontational manner on the water, when arriving and leaving
Collision with other water users251.Leaders to be trained in potential dangers
2.On surf have defined area and follow surf etiquette, or if beginners then separate them from other users
3.On white water use appropriate scouting technique to ensure no blind / out of control running of features
4.In harbours and estuaries be aware of commercial, amateur and deep draught shipping that can collide with small craft


1 - no treatment required
2 - Minor first aid needed
3 - Injury requiring first aid and medical follow up
4 - Major injury requiring immediate hospitalisation
5 - Death

1 - Almost unknown
2 - Rare
3 - Occasional
4 - Frequent
5 - Generally occurs