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A report on safety at outdoor activity centres is published today by the Health & Safety Executive. The report con...
A report on safety at outdoor activity centres is published today by the Health & Safety Executive. The report contains the results of a two-year programme of visits to outdoor activity centres by HSE and local authority inspectors.

This programme was part of a package of measures announced by the government to safeguard school pupils and others at such centres following the 1993 Lyme Bay canoeing tragedy, in which four school pupils died. The report incorporates the findings of an interim report published in January 1995.

The report presents data from inspectors' visits to 311 outdoor activity centres throughout Great Britain during 1994 and 1995, plus 53 follow-up visits in 1995 to centres visited the previous year to check that standards had improved. The broad aim of these visits was to gather information, to promote compliance with health and safety law, and to take enforcement action where necessary.

Inspectors concentrated on the assessment and control of risks, emergency procedures, training and competence of instructors, maintenance of equipment, and monitoring of safety standards, taking action as required to ensure good practice.

Confirming the findings in the interim report, the final report concludes that most providers showed a high level of safety awareness, had made satisfactory arrangements for managing safety and had met legal requirements.

However, there was some scope for further improvements (e.g. better risk assessments for some activites, and improved written emergency procedures and accident reporting arrangements) and inspectors issued eight Improvement Notices (five in 1994 and three in 1995), all at initial visits.

Not surprisingly, the report notes, most activity providers visited are still vividly aware of the Lyme Bay incident and the failings which led to the deaths of the young people involved and the overall attitude to safety matters was extremely positive.

The Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 1996, which come into force today, now require a licence to be held by commercial providers of prescribed adventure activities offered to young people under 18.

Copies of the report 'A Report into Safety at Outdoor Activity Centres', are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6FS (Tel. 01787 881165/Fax: 01787 313995); Dillons and other good booksellers, ISBN 0 7176 1144 2, price £10.00.

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