The father of Katie-Lou Mclean, who suffered brain damage when she was swept into the sea at Eyemouth, is petitioning the government to make public beaches safer.
Andy Mclean explained: “What I’m trying to do is get the law changed so that public beach providers are required to provide risk assessments.”
He is in no doubt that with extra care, his daughter’s and others’ accidents might never have happened.
“If this had been in place,” he said, “then Katie-Lou’s accident and others like it may never have happened.
“It seems obvious that public beach providers are under no obligation at the minute.”
The online petition came about as Andy investigated the legal responsibilities around public beaches.
In his introduction to the petition, he wrote: “We’ve discovered that there is no legal obligation for public beach operators (mostly local councils) to undertake beach risk assessments aimed at keeping the public safe.”
Andy went on to point out that as all employers must conduct workplace risk assessment, any staff on beaches are therefore covered, whereas members of the public are not.
He continued: “There is no legal obligation for public beach operators to provide life saving equipment at, on or near public beaches unless they have conducted a risk assessment, which says equipment is required.”
A perceived lack of safety equipment on the Eyemouth seafront was remedied after the accident, following a Scottish Borders Council review.
Andy’s views on the inadequacies in beach safety have been echoed by the RNLI.
In 2007 the RNLI produced a 50 page report about how to evaluate the need for, and types of, life saving equipment for all public beach operators in the UK. The charity is happy to assist and advise on the implementation and maintenance of risk assessments.
The RNLI has previously stated on its website: “Much of the public rescue equipment (PRE) found on UK beaches is not fit for purpose. In some cases, this has led to drownings.”
Andy’s petition has two aims. Firstly, to change the law to make it a legal obligation for public beach operators to conduct risk assessments.
Secondly, he wants to make it a legal obligation for public beach operators to provide a minimum level of life saving equipment regardless of risk.
You can sign the petition at: www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/uk-parliament-make-it-law-for-all-public-beach-operators-to-conduct-risk-assessments-provide-a-minimum-level-of-life-saving-equipment