MARK DANIELS - Adviser on visitor and occupational health and safety at historic buildings, parks, gardens, coast and countryside


This page features links to various other organisations whose work is relevant to visitor safety management.

The Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group (VSCG) 

The Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group (VSCG) was set up in 1997 to develop a consistent approach to visitor safety management. The original members came together with a shared perception that litigation was driving a trend towards inappropriate safety precautions in the countryside, and a concern that there was little relevant safety guidance for landowners and land managers to refer to. Since then, the group has met regularly to exchange information and develop ideas. In particular, it has looked at how to create safe access to the countryside and historic buildings and structures in ways that do not spoil the landscape and heritage, or lessen the visitor's sense of exploration and adventure.

All members of the group own and manage extensive land and property assets and encourage public access. The membership has expanded in the last couple of years. All are committed to protecting and enhancing the environment. Group members have day to day experience of visitor management, and include specialist safety advisers. The current members are:

Canal and River Trust Historic Scotland English Heritage Forestry Commission Environment Agency National Trust Natural England The Royal Parks The Woodland Trust National Trust for Scotland Peak District National Park Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Cadw Chatsworth House Trust
British Mountaineering Council Broads Authority The Land Trust Manx National Heritage Natural Resources Wales
Severn Trent Water RoSPA RNLI Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Scottish Canals
Office of Public Works State Claims Agency Coillte Waterways Ireland Yorkshire Water

One of the first tasks the group set itself was to create a set of guiding principles. The principles apply to individuals and groups visiting land, water, buildings and other structures. They are relevant to country parks, canals and rivers in urban areas as well as more open countryside. Visitors include people engaged in informal recreation as well as participants in various sports and activities.

The principles emphasise the importance of conservation, access and personal enjoyment in the countryside, and the need to look for a balance between safety and these wider benefits. They also illustrate the balance to be achieved between personal responsibility and the responsibility of the landowner or manager.

In 2003 the group published the guiding principles and associated advice in a book - "Managing Visitor Safety in the Countryside - principles and practice". A revised edition was produced in 2005; a fully revised and updated booklet was completed and published in January 2012 (see VSCG and NTSG page).

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

HSE is the national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness. It is an independent regulator and acts in the public interest to reduce work-related death and serious injury in workplaces in England, Wales and Scotland. Their role also encompasses public safety, particularly the investigation of incidents arising from work activities.

Subsidiary web pages cover the work of HSE's Leisure and Entertainment Sector (

The National Tree Safety Group (NTSG)

The National Tree Safety Group is made up of a number of organisations with an interest in tree risk management. The group came together in August 2007 to discuss the need for a nationally recognised approach to tree safety management. From an early stage, one issue became the priority for the group - the provision of guidance that is proportionate to the risk posed by trees and defendable rather than defensive. The group has published a position statement, and full guidance was finally published in December 2011 (see VSCG and NTSG page).

The National Water Safety Forum

The Forum is an association of organisations that have a wide variety of interests and responsibilities for water safety, including sports governing bodies, rescue services, regulators, navigation and harbour authorities, local government, utilities, and other representative groups. The Forum works in partnership with RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) which provides technical and administrative support.

The core of the Forum's work is formed by the six specialist Advisory Groups (beach safety, inland water safety, sea safety, swimming pool safety, water sports, information and research) each comprised of a small number of people with a breadth of relevant knowledge. Membership of the Advisory Groups is by invitation based on the person's potential to contribute rather than whom they represent.

The Forum has developed a set of principles for water safety, based on the VSCG guiding principles.

Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) - Rural Industries Group

The IOSH Rural Industries Group covers agriculture, horticulture, forestry, fisheries, conservation, equine activities, rural estate management and other businesses that get their income from the rural economy. It has around 300 members, and its main focus is on professionals who work in isolated or remote locations. It also provides industry news from a wide range of sources on its web site. This IOSH group is the one most relevant to visitor safety issues.

Play Safety Forum

The Play Safety Forum (PSF) is an independent forum hosted by Play England as part of its work to research, develop and advocate effective policies and good practice for play provision.

The PSF focuses on two key areas:

  • defining the role of risk and challenge in play and play provision.
  • advising on policy in relation to risk and safety in places where children play.

      PSF members include national organisations that have an active interest in the development and implementation of good practice in play provision, with particular reference to issues of risk and health and safety. It has published important guidance documents, particularly "Managing risk in play provision", one of the first publications to incorporate the concept of risk-benefit assessment.

Historic Houses Association

The Historic Houses Association (HHA) represents 1500 privately-owned historic houses, castles and gardens throughout the UK. These are listed buildings or designated gardens, usually Grade I or II*, and are often outstanding. Many are considered to be iconic symbols of Britain's unique heritage. Around 300 HHA houses open to the public for day visitors, attracting between them about 14 million visitors each year. Others open for special visits, weddings, corporate events or short breaks.