Safety Safety Guidance

Safety Guidance – Management of Invasive & Injurious Plants

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Published May 2024. This version replaces ‘AGS Guidance on Dangerous or Injurious Plants’ which was published in 2018.

Geotechnical and geo-environmental investigations often require site visits and intrusive works. These sites may be heavily vegetated and may have been colonised by invasive or injurious plant species, which may harm individuals coming into physical contact with them or have legal implications if inadvertently spread as a result of worksite activities1. It is important that those individuals undertaking site visits can recognise the most common of these and avoid contact with them. Where skin contact is made then those undertaking the site work should be aware of the potential health impacts, appropriate preventative precautions and if necessary, any treatment required.

There are a wide number of plants which are potentially dangerous. This includes plants which may cause an allergic reaction if touched whilst others may give rise to phototoxic reactions whereby areas of skin which encounter the plant undergo a severe reaction in the presence of direct sunlight. Although potentially hazardous, plants which are visually spiny or spiky and obviously capable of causing physical harm, e.g., briars, brambles, cacti, hawthorn, firethorn, holly etc are excluded from this guidance. Similarly, the potentially poisonous effects of plants, fruits, fungi or tubers via accidental or intentional ingestion or direct injection into the blood stream are excluded from this guidance.