While I enjoy the snow there is a realisation that, as we continue to have more of it, the country appears to stand still and falls apart as soon as snow hits the ground. Therefore, on the first day of spring, I am currently wishing for rain and more rain to make it go away!

Where I am located, I have several vineyards which are open to the public and, having taken advantage of the vineyard tours on offer, I would strongly recommend it to others. Not only is it a fun few hours out in the sun, but it is also educational as you get to find out more about the vineyard and its vintages.

If you haven’t opened your vineyard up to the public yet and are thinking of doing so there are a few considerations you have to think about. Health and Safety has to be the key to any organisation who is thinking of opening to the public.

The key is to be aware of the risks and plan around them and to help think about this I have set out some information for you to consider below.

  •  Insurance is key – you must tell your insurance company what you are planning to do. The insurance provider will then go through the risks with you and will suggest you take out (if you haven’t already) public liability insurance together with advising on the amount you will require. Public liability insurance is not a legal requirement for some businesses but should be considered essential if members of the public will be interacting with your company in any way. This includes customers receiving deliveries and clients visiting your offices or work premises. Public liability insurance covers your business if someone is injured in some way by your business or if you damage third party property when carrying out work. When taking out public liability insurance you will need to tell your insurer what type of business you operate. This is not just for the sake of records but will help you come to an agreement over the type of policy best suited to you; whether your insurer judges cover up to £1 million to be sufficient for your needs or if a larger policy of around £5 million would be more appropriate in the circumstances. If you work in the public sector, for example, you will often be required to take out a minimum insurance of £5 million.
  •  Have you carried out a risk assessment of the areas you are planning to open up the public? It is always recommended that you use a generic risk assessment to help you identify the hazards, assess the risk, take action and control the risks. This risk assessment highlights commonly identified hazards (i.e. things with the potential to cause harm) and control measures/precautions (i.e. ways of reducing the likelihood of the hazard causing harm) associated with general locations, events or activities. To assist you with carrying out this assessment The Department for Communities and Local Government has produced a series of generic risk assessments to help fire and rescue authorities in England in drawing up their own assessments to meet the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. I would recommend that you read this as the guides offers a wide range of advice.
  •  Travel around the site – If you are planning to have rides around the vineyard via a tractor and trailer, there must be a handrail around the trailer, seats must be fixed although bales will do if these are strapped to the trailer bed and the trailer must have independent brakes.
  •  How clean should the vineyard be? As a working operation no one will expect it to be immaculate, but make sure all routes you want visitors to use are clear and free from rubbish.