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Health and Safety in the Allotment & Garden

At the risk of sounding like Granny warning of dangers whatever you do, I think it is worth considering a few points when on your allotment or gardening.

Allotment Health SafetyTetanus or Lockjaw

This very serious infection is caused by a bacterium that lives in the soil and especially manured soil. It enters the body through a cut or open wound and a few days or weeks later the illness hits.

You may not even be aware of the cut – bacteria are very small! A tetanus jab will prevent it but not cure it. You can usually get the jab from your doctor – and it is not a painful one anymore.


Allotments and gardening provide you with a lot of physical exercise. This is good for you but don’t overdo it. Especially on cold days, warm up a little first before starting to dig over your plot. Break up large jobs into small manageable sections and take a break between them.


If you own a mobile phone, it’s probably a good idea to have it with you on the plot. Imagine the scenario – you are the only person on the site, something happens …..

Tool Using

Proper tools make jobs a lot easier and safer. Old spades and forks have handles sized for smaller people than we are today. A longer handle will not only make the job easier but helps prevent back strain.

Rotavators and other power tools.

A large rotavator can be a bit of a strain to control – take a while to get used to it. Just like when you learnt to drive a car, you need to develop the correct reflexes. Those tines that happily break up the soil will do the same to your feet if you are not careful. Power strimmers, shredders etc. all have their dangers as well. Read the manuals and follow the instructions carefully.

Often it is a good idea to wear ear-defenders or ear-plugs with noisy engines going nearby and safety goggles will protect your eyes from flying debris from a strimmer.

I know it is pretty obvious, but don’t try to clear a blocked shredder with the power on. If they can shred a branch they will make easy work of your fingers.


Having seen people happily trying to use a fork in sandles, it needs to be said. Sensible shoes and especially ‘toetectors’ can save you from a forked foot or worse. Shorts are great in summer.. until you kneel in a red ants nest (happened to me!)

Pesticides and other chemicals.

Just follow the instructions with great care. And if you take children to the plot, keep the chemicals where the kids can’t get them. Young children have magical abilities to open childproof caps… unlike adults!

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