Health and Safety
The activity of Morris Dancing has within it a certain level of danger. Performances take place in public places, and it is commonplace for small children to be close by, and they may sometimes be allowed by their parents to run free around the area where the dancing is taking place. Performances also involve dancers hitting sticks together in a traditional fashion, and this can on occasion involve shards of wood being dislocated from the sticks.
These are problems and we recognise them. But we wish to maintain a sense of proportion. We dance in a way that has been a part of English culture for hundreds of years, and we do not feel that the practice of the Morris should be changed because of potential difficulties that might exist. Rather, we adopt a policy of considering all the risks, and taking reasonable steps to minimize them.
We thus take reasonable care while maintaining our aim of continuing the tradition of the Morris, and bringing it to the villages of Rutland, so that others who share our enthusiasm and the enjoyment of the Morris, can witness the continuance of this fine tradition.
It is from this starting point that we have evolved our risk assessment that appears below.
Risk Assessment for Rutland Morris Men
During the past 3 years Rutland Morris Men have performed at around 50 venues a year. There been no accidents or near-accidents resulting from the activity of Rutland Morris Men within the past three years.
The activity involves a group of musicians (usually between 1 and 4) and a group of dancers (usually 6 or 8) performing dances on tarmac or similar solid surfaces in the open air, in the traditional Morris manner. On occasion a member or members of the public is/are invited to participate either in terms of standing at the centre of a circle and being danced around, or joining in the dance, or holding a wooden stick which is hit by other sticks, or being lifted off the ground once by three or four Morris Men at the end of a dance.
In these activities the hazard (the potential to cause harm) is very limited for standing in the centre, for dancing and for being lifted off the ground. There is a hazard of the person being lifted being dropped from a height of perhaps 2 feet.
In holding a stick which is hit by other sticks as part of a dance there is a potential for limited injury in terms of a splinter. There is a very remote chance of a stick missing its target (the opposing stick) and hitting a person about the body, or of breaking and causing injury to an eye. No one associated with Morris dancing has ever come across this happening, but the hazard exists.
The risk - the likelihood of an event occurring which will allow the hazard to be manifest - is thus very low, certainly occurring less than once in every year since 1974 (the year Rutland Morris Men started dancing.)
We do recognize that in some dances, because of the nature of the activities involving sticks, there is a slight chance of a small shaft of wood becoming detached. To meet this possibility when a dance incorporating this risk is performed we do ensure that we are further away from the audience than we are in other dances.
The result of the event in terms of amount of damage and number of people of a stick breaking - affect only one person.
Because not every member of the side attends every performance Rutland Morris Men do not always carry first aid equipment or have a person with first aid training on hand.
Children are on occasion invited to participate and activity is adjusted according to the child's height and stature. However because the entertainment is not essentially one designed for children the members of the ensemble have not been criminally vetted in relation to working with children.
No protective clothing is used by the Morris Men.
No one in the ensemble has training on how to behave in relation to a major or minor accident.
All organisations that book the Morris Men are invited to watch the Morris Men perform elsewhere. A list of bookings is available on the Rutland Morris Men web site.
No electrical equipment is used at any time by the Morris Men. All musical instruments are acoustic, and are kept under the control of the individual players at all times.
The noise level generated is always below that recommended in health and safety provisions.
Rutland Morris Men have third party insurance, and details of this can be obtained from the Bagman.