Guidance for Leaders

Careful planning and preparation contribute greatly to the safe and enjoyable outcome of any activity. The council's generic risk assessment for your chosen activity is designed to help you plan that activity safely, and must be referred to in the early planning stages. The guidance below is directed mainly to leaders undertaking simple activities but will also form the basis for the evaluation of more adventurous activities.

Safety considerations will generally be concerned with:


  • Group Control
  • Heights Off The Ground
  • Water
  • Water Hazards
  • Group Size and Supervision

Young people may be operating alone or in pairs, out of immediate contact with leaders. Consideration needs to be given to appropriate briefings and to emergency procedures.
Examples of such activities may include; wayfaring, treasure hunts and other activities involving the gathering of information.

Activities which involve young people being a significant height (more than 1metre) from the ground will require particular consideration. Such activities include:

  • High ropes courses
  • Tyrolean and other rope-aided traverses
  • Artificial rock wall climbing.

Leaders should ensure that they have the appropriate training, experience, and equipment to adequately safeguard individuals in such situations.

Any activities that involve the use of a rope to safeguard a fall will require an appropriate Rock Climbing or Mountaineering qualification or specific Approval for that event or form of activity.

Where activities take place on or near water, leaders should ensure that they have the appropriate training and experience for the safe supervision of water-based activities. Such activities may include; raft building, river crossings, and tyrolean traverses over water.

Specifically, the following should be considered:

  • Relevant rescue and lifesaving techniques and the administration of Expired Air Resuscitation.
  • The provision of a rescue boat where appropriate, the driver of which must hold RYA National Powerboat Certificate Level 2. In addition there should normally be a second competent adult aboard.

CEN approved buoyancy aids should be worn when afloat or where unexpected immersion is possible.

Any staff unsure of their expertise and the scope of their training with regard to the supervision of simple activities within this category should consult the Adventurous Activities Consultant for advice.
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Any crossing which requires more than a simple step across a small stream should not be underestimated and should only be contemplated when no significant risks are posed by doing so. When managing risks associated with water hazards, leaders must operate within the scope of their training and experience.
The council´s in house Lowhills Award does not provide formal training in dealing with water hazards, and leaders who are qualified in this capacity are required to ensure that any water crossings carried out under their supervision are of no more than ankle depth, able to be carried out easily and are inconsequential in the event of a slip.
Leaders who have undertaken national awards such as the Summer Mountain Leader Award will be more able to apply a reliable risk benefit analysis when faced with these hazards; however the overriding consideration should be avoidance of such hazards wherever possible.
The key to a successful outcome lies in the planning and risk assessment stages. Contingency plans should be drawn up for those situations where water is above ankle level or where the outcome of a crossing is uncertain. These should include alternative routes or waiting until water levels recede.

N.B Leaders who have undertaken training in any relevant capacity must lodge a record of that training with the management of their establishment.

Where activities are of a technical nature, the ratios for group size and supervision within the relevant activity chapter will apply.

For non-technical activities, leaders should consider the nature of the activity, the environment, and the quality of the experience to be provided when deciding on appropriate ratios.


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