1.1 Introduction

Giving more children and young people access to outdoor learning and play opportunities provides invaluable life experiences which could not be achieved without ‘going out there’ more regularly and more frequently.

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1.2 Incidents and Accidents

Accidents and mistakes may happen on visits – but fear of prosecution has been blown out of proportion leading to a fear of taking children and young people off site and outdoors.

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1.3 Adopting this Framework

The framework has been developed to enable its widest possible adoption, integrating support for employers with planning and provision at local authority level and with management, delivery and practice at establishment level.

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1.4 Supporting Materials

The framework is supported by tools, resources and accompanying examples of good practice for the planning and evaluation of different levels of outdoor experience and off-site visits, which are straightforward and user-friendly to apply.

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2.1 Introduction

The ability and competence of front line staff to plan and manage a dynamic situation in a safe and appropriate way is the key contributor to safe and successful practice in the different levels of outdoor experience and off-site visits.

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2.2 Employers Supporting Heads of Establishments

Employers have a clear duty to provide appropriate information, instruction and training to all their employees. Employers will monitor the effectiveness of their management and delivery of outdoor experiences and off-site visits.

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2.3 Helping Heads of Establishment to Support Visit Leaders

The employer’s arrangements for planning, approval, monitoring, training and audit should support Heads of Establishment in assisting staff to lead outdoor experiences and off-site visits with increasing confidence and competence.

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2.4 Identifying and Deploying Staff

The Head of Establishment, who approves each visit, should match the demands of the different levels of off-site visit to the competencies and experience of individual staff who may be interested in participating in off-site visits.

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2.5 Support and Development for Visit Leaders

The employer’s arrangements for planning, approval, monitoring, training and audit should provide Visit Leaders with ready access to their employer’s policies and guidance. This includes direct access to technical advice on visits and additional field monitoring assistance by a senior member of the establishment in some cases.

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2.6 Access to Technical Advice

Employers must have access to technical advice on visit and activity safety matters. The adviser needs to have diverse experience of the range of outdoor activity and visit provision. They should be of sufficient authority to ensure that they can develop and take forward strategy, advice and guidance across all sectors and services.

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2.7 Approval for Visits

Whilst the employer has health and safety responsibilities it would be normal practice to delegate approval of routine and simple day visits to the Head of Establishment.

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2.8 Planning for Emergencies

Employers must prepare and communicate emergency procedures for all off-site visits. Emergency procedures are an essential part of planning a visit.

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3.1 Introduction

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees.

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3.2 Employer’s Responsibilities

Details of the main roles for employers.

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3.3 Heads of Establishment’s Responsibilities

Heads of Establishments are expected to follow and implement this guidance to ensure their responsibilities are fulfilled and that outdoor learning experiences and off-site visits can occur frequently and regularly and are managed safely.

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3.4 Visit Leader’s Responsibilities

Visit Leaders will consult with and seek advice and guidance from their local authority and Head of Establishment with regard to up-to-date agreements about practice and procedure in off-site visits.

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3.5 Visit Assistant’s Responsibilities

Visit Assistants, including parents and carers, as well as volunteers working for service providers, have an important role in supporting and enabling outdoor learning experiences and off-site visits.

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3.6 Parents’ Responsibilities

Parents should be able to make an informed decision on whether their child should participate in any visit.

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3.7 Participant’s Responsibilities

Details of the responsibilities of participants.

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4.1 Introduction

Whatever type of visit is being undertaken, time given for preparation will ensure good planning, maximise the potential benefits of the experience and help minimise the risk from any incidents.

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4.2 Preparing a Visit Plan

A Visit Plan needs to be in place for all off-site visits. The Visit Plan outlines who is to do what, and when. The amount of content and detail in the Visit Plan will be determined by the nature of the trip.

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4.3 Establishing Ratios

It is important to have a suitable ratio of adult supervisors to participants for any visit.

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4.4 Communicating with Parents

The majority of off-site visits are a normal part of educational and other service provision (e.g. youth clubs) and are referred to within this guidance as ‘Routine and Expected Visits’.

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4.5 Parental Consent and Medical Information

A summary of visit types, with recommendations regarding parental consent and medical information, can be found in the matrix in the Toolkit section.

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4.6 Preparing Participants

It is good practice to prepare participants so that they understand the aims and nature of the visit. Risk Education is an important aspect of young people’s development.

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4.7 Supervision

The Visit Leader has overall responsibility for supervision during a trip. All adults in a supervisory role have a duty of care for the group at all times. There is no break from this responsibility during the trip.

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4.8 Remote Supervision

Remote supervision is the term used when the leader is not directly present with participants. Remote supervision comes in varying degrees and is used in a variety of circumstances.

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4.9 Unaccompanied Visits

There may be occasions when young people take part in visits without any accompanying leader for the entire trip.

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4.10 Exploratory Visit

A Visit Leader needs to be confident that the location and facilities are suitable for their plans.

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4.11 Gender of Accompanying Staff

With a mixed gender group it is preferable to have a gender mix of leaders. However there are many circumstances where this is not possible or essential.

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4.12 Vetting Accompanying Adults

Parents and other volunteers are often an essential part of supervision ratios. When they assist on visits they are called “accompanying adults”.

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4.13 Using an External Provider

The term ‘external provider’ can include museums, local farms, activity providers, residential centres, tour operators, expedition providers etc.

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4.14 Inclusion

Where it is reasonably practicable all children should be able to access the opportunity to participate in off-site visits. Visit Leaders should be aware of, and follow their employer’s equality and inclusion arrangements.

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4.15 First Aid

Access to first aid should form part of the Visit Plan.

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5.1 Introduction

It is important to have procedures that encourage participation. Risk assessment should focus on real risks, rather than on those that are trivial or the result of over-protectiveness.

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5.2 Preparing Risk Assessments

The employer has a legal responsibility to ensure risk assessments are in place for off-site visits and to have a system that ensures these are being implemented.

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5.3 Dynamic Risk Assessment

Despite the best planning, the unexpected may happen during a visit. Visit Leaders have to be prepared to change and adapt as required. Experience and training will enable sound judgements to be made.

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5.4 Using an External Provider

All external providers must have risk assessments in place. Depending on the nature of the visit and activities to be undertaken the Visit Leader needs to consider whether they need sight of these.

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6.1 Introduction

The Visit Leader must give careful thought to planning transport. It is important to ensure that the travel plan is suitable for the age and nature of the participants.

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6.2 Supervision on Transport

The Visit Leader is responsible for the party at all times including maintaining good discipline whilst travelling, and during any unsupervised periods.

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6.3 Hiring Coaches and Buses

Visit Leaders should consult their employer’s guidance for any specific procedures.

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6.4 Licences and Permits for Driving Minibuses

Visit Leaders should refer to their employer’s policy or consult the transport manager.

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6.5 Establishment Minibus

The minibus should be properly maintained in accordance with the employer’s arrangements.

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6.6 Private Cars

Visit Leaders and others who drive participants in their own car must ensure their passengers’ safety in line with legal requirements.

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7.1 Introduction

The employer should make clear to Heads of Establishments and Visit Leaders the extent of their insurance provision for off-site visits. The Visit Leader must ensure, before the group departs, that adequate insurance arrangements are in place covering all planned activities.

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7.2 Using an External Provider

If an off-site trip involves an external provider (e.g. outdoor activity provider, residential centre), the Visit Leader should establish the level of insurance provided by their own employer in order to determine whether additional insurance is required.

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7.3 Using a Travel Company

If the off-site trip involves a travel company, the Visit Leader should establish the level of insurance provided by their own employer in order to determine whether additional insurance is required.

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7.4 Information for Parents

Parents should be given details of insurance cover. For Routine and Expected Visits this can be done on an annual basis through the school handbook.

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8.1 Introduction

The Scottish Government have recognised the need for young people to be regularly involved in outdoor activity and learning.

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8.2 Approval

Approval for Routine and Expected Visits is the responsibility of the Head of Establishment.

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8.3 Visit Plans

There should be a collaborative approach within establishments to develop Visit Plans for the range of venues likely to be used on a regular basis.

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8.4 Risk Assessment

Heads of Establishment should work with staff to develop risk assessments for the range of venues likely to be used on a regular basis.

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8.5 Information for Parents / Parental Consent

When children join an establishment or group, parents should be informed about the range of activities that are part of the programme or curriculum.

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8.6 First Aid

Heads of Establishment should work with staff to agree the level of first aid provision that is required for a Routine and Expected Visit.

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9.1 Introduction

Visits which are a one-off experience require additional planning considerations.

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9.2 Approval

Approval for One-off Day Visits is the responsibility of the Head of Establishment.

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9.3 Visit Plans

The Visit Leader is responsible for completing a Visit Plan for a One-off Day Visit. The Visit Plan should outline who is to do what, and when.

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9.4 Risk Assessment

It is the responsibility of the Visit Leader to prepare a specific risk assessment for a One-off Day Visit. Visit Leaders are responsible for recording significant and foreseeable risks specific to their visit.

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9.5 Information for Parents / Parental Consent

For One-off Day Visits specific information has to be provided to parents.

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9.6 Emergency Details

Visit Leaders should ensure that they carry up-to-date information for all participants.

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9.7 First Aid and Medical Facilities

Heads of Establishment and Visit Leaders need to take various factors into account when deciding the level of first aid provision that is required on a One-off Day Visit.

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10.1 Introduction

A residential experience can be an extremely valuable learning opportunity and should be part of the progressive outdoor learning experiences provided for young people.

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10.2 Approval

Residential Visits should be approved by the Head of Establishment before notification to the employer. Advice should be sought from the local authority.

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10.3 Visit Plans

The Visit Leader is responsible for completing a Visit Plan for a Residential Visit.

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10.4 Risk Assessment

It is the responsibility of the Visit Leader to prepare a specific risk assessment for a Residential Visit.

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10.5 Supervision

Residential Visits entail additional requirements for supervision.

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10.6 Information for Parents

Specific information has to be provided in writing to parents.

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10.7 Parental Consent

Parental consent has to be obtained for a Residential Visit. Detailed information has to be provided.

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10.8 Preparing Participants

It is particularly important for a Residential Visit to ensure that participants are adequately prepared.

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10.9 Points to Consider about Accommodation

In the planning stage the Visit Leader should consider various points about the accommodation, both prior to the visit and on arrival.

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10.10 Emergency Details

On a Residential Visit it is important that the Visit Leader has adequate knowledge and information about participants to ensure their well-being.

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10.11 First Aid and Medical Facilities

The aims and objectives of the visit can influence the degree of risk that parents and participants will find acceptable.

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11.1 Introduction

Overseas visits include all visits outside the UK. They are almost certain to include a residential element, and are likely to involve other activities which are of a sporting, cultural, or adventurous nature.

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11.2 Approval

Overseas Visits must comply with the Employer’s policy regarding taking young people outside the UK and advice should be sought in the early planning stage.

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11.3 Visit Plans

The Visit Leader is responsible for compiling a Visit Plan which documents all aspects of the trip – the amount of detail will be determined by the nature of the trip.

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11.4 Risk Assessments

It is the responsibility of the Visit Leader to prepare a specific risk assessment for all aspects of an Overseas Visit for which they are taking direct responsibility.

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11.5 Establishing Ratios

As part of the risk assessment, careful consideration has to be given to establishing leader:participant ratios.

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11.6 Information for Parents

For Overseas Visits the process of informing parents and participants will need to start well in advance of the visit.

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11.7 Parental Consent

Parental consent must be obtained for an Overseas Visit.

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11.8 Alternative activities / changes to plans

It is important that any changes to plans do not vary considerably from what parents have given consent for, and that you do not take part in unplanned activities which would have required parents to have given informed consent.

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11.9 Preparing Participants

It is particularly important for an Overseas Visit to ensure that participants are well prepared.

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11.10 Transport

Travel to and from the visit location as well as travel throughout the duration of the visit requires careful planning.

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11.11 Accommodation

Prior to the visit and on arrival, there are various things that the Visit Leader shoulc check.

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11.12 Adventure Activities

Adventure Activities abroad, whether organised by the Visit Leader or by a tour operator, require careful consideration.

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11.13 Food and drinking water

Food, drink and hygiene overseas can vary considerably from the UK. It is advisable to identify potential hazards in advance and to make arrangements to mitigate any risk.

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11.14 Language and local customs

Visit Leaders should be able to communicate effectively in the native language of the country or through a translator in order to manage the business relating to the Visit or any problems arising.

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11.15 Weather, climate and clothing

Information about weather should be used to inform participants and parents about any particular clothing/equipment requirements for the planned activities and to raise awareness of any significant risks.

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11.16 Currency and contingency funds

It will be important to consider how spending money and contingency funds will be kept safe and accessed throughout the trip.

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11.17 Communication

It is necessary to have a plan in place to enable routine and emergency communications with consideration being given to different time zones, mobile coverage, costs etc.

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11.18 Emergency Details

During an Overseas Visit it is important that the Visit Leader has adequate knowledge and information about participants to ensure their wellbeing.

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11.19 First Aid and Medical Facilities

Access to medical assistance and facilities, and the standard of those facilities, needs to be outlined to participants and parents in the early planning stage.

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11.20 Natural Water Swimming Activities

Swimming and paddling in natural waters such as rivers, canals, the sea or lochs can present significant hazards and the Visit Leader must prepare a risk assessment detailing any significant hazards and how they will be controlled.

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11.21 Unsupervised Swimming Pools and Pools Abroad

There are generally varying levels of provision in terms of facilities and safety management provided in swimming pools overseas.

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11.22 Exchange visits and Home-stays

The Planning of Overseas Visits that entails accommodating participants with Host Families introduces additional considerations.

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12.1 Introduction

Adventure Activities should form part of the natural progression of outdoor learning opportunities offered to young people. They can contribute greatly to the personal and social development of an individual.

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12.2 Approval

Where Adventure Activities are part of a visit, approval should be given initially by the Head of Establishment and then by the local authority to confirm the safety of the adventure element.

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12.3 Licensing

Under some circumstances providers of Adventure Activities to young people are required to hold a licence. Further information can be found on the AALA website regarding the situation in Scotland.

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12.4 Adventure Activity Qualifications

Many Adventure Activities are overseen by National Governing Bodies. These organisations control the training and assessment of leaders and have a system of progressive qualifications.

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12.5 Establishment-led Adventure Activities

Information for Visit Leaders wishing to organise and deliver their own Adventure Activities.

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12.6 Information for Parents / Parental consent

For any visit which involves Adventure Activities specific information has to be provided in writing to parents.

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12.7 Preparing Participants

It is particularly important for any visit which involves Adventure Activities to ensure that participants are adequately prepared.

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12.8 Remote Supervision during Adventure Activities

Remote supervision is the term used when the Visit Leader is not directly present with participants. Working without immediate supervision can help learners to develop independence and self-reliance.

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13.1 Coastal Visits

Visit to coastal areas can be hugely enriching however they require additional consideration in the planning stages.

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13.2 Natural Water Swimming Activities

Swimming and paddling in natural waters such as rivers, canals, sea or lochs can present significant hazards.

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13.3 Unsupervised Swimming Pools and Pools Abroad

Swimming pools in hotels and abroad are likely to have varying levels of safety and facilities.

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13.4 Farm, Agricultural and Animal Visits

Visits to farms can present particular issues in relation to health.

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14.1 Introduction

Emergency planning procedures are an essential part of planning a visit.

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14.2 Preparation

Prior to departure on any visit, information should be left with a pre-arranged Establishment-Based Contact.

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14.3 Establishment-Based Contact

The Establishment-Based Contact has a key role in the Emergency Procedure.

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14.4 Immediate Action in an Emergency

Immediate priorities of the Visit Leader or any Leader who has to deputise for them in the event of an emergency.

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14.5 External Contact

If an incident or accident is likely to attract media attention, it is important wherever possible that communication with the media and other external agencies is undertaken by someone trained in this role.

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14.6 After a Serious Incident

It is not always possible to assess whether group members not injured or directly involved in the incident have been traumatised or whether other participants or staff have been affected.

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14.7 Reporting Accidents and Incidents

The employer’s accident reporting procedures should be used to record all accidents and incidents.

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