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The Health & Safety Commission today published a consultative document seeking comments on draft regulations and gu...
The Health & Safety Commission today published a consultative document seeking comments on draft regulations and guidance for a licensing scheme for providers of adventure activities to young people.

HSC is also seeking expressions of interest from bodies wishing to be considered for nomination as a national licensing authority.

The proposed regulations would require a licence to be held by all commercial providers of adventure activities to people under the age of 18 in caving; climbing; mountain walking; paddle sports such as canoeing and river rafting; sailing and skiing.

Schools, voluntary associations and clubs would not need to hold a licence when providing adventure activities to their own pupils or members.

Providers would be inspected and would not be granted a licence unless they satisfied the licensing authority that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been prepared and suitable safety arrangements had been developed and implemented to ensure the safety of participants.

There would be further spot-checks and periodic inspections to consider annual licence renewals.

All licences would have conditions attached requiring the holder to:

keep the risk assessment and safety arrangements up to date; have sufficient competent instructors; give information on risks and precautions to those who need it; have appropriate equipment properly maintained; and have suitable first aid and emergency arrangements.

The licensing authority would be able to add further safety conditions.

As proposed, the regulations also specify:

Offences for not holding or complying with a licence or misleading the licensing authority; representation and appeal rights; fees; public availability of information on licence holders; investigation of complaints; and extension of enforcement powers for health and safety enforcing authorities.

For providers and activities outside the licensing scheme, HSC recommends a voluntary approval scheme, run by the licensing authority. The commission would expect the safety standards for approval to be the same as for granting a statutory license, but the approach to other features such as inspections and fees could be more flexible.

HSC is inviting bodies that wish to be considered for nomination as the licensing authority to express an interest now. Formal applications would be invited after the period of consultation is over and the regulations setting out the authority's functions are finalised.

One body is sought for the whole of Great Britain. The Commission will consider applicants against criteria which would include the following:

Independence from both provider and consumer interests; access to expertise in the safe management of a wide range of sporting, recreational and out door activities; command of the respect of providers, users and technical experts in the field of adventure activities; the ability to publicise itself and its functions to providers and consumers; capability to set up an effective inspectorate and administration quickly; and achieving a self-financing but non profit-distributing status.

Comments on the proposals should be sent to: Mr G Gilmour, General Policy Section, Strategy and General Division, Health & Safety Executive, 7th Floor North Wing, Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS, to reach him no later than 24 November 1995.

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