Health and Safety Executive
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HSE launches consultation on safety in the adventure activities sector

Outdoor activity providers, sports clubs and teachers are among those being asked for their views on proposals to change the health and safety requirements for young people's adventure activities.

The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) will be abolished, and a 12-week long public consultation on its replacement with a code of practice begins today.

The current arrangements for regulating adventure activities require that providers of activities for under-18s in four areas - caving, climbing, trekking and water sports - have a licence issued by AALA before they can operate.

Safety performance in the sector is good and there have been no prosecutions brought under the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004. On this basis, HSE considers the provision and use of adventure activities to be low risk.

Peter Brown, HSE's programme lead for AALA, said:

"The aim of these proposals is to reduce bureaucracy whilst still ensuring that outdoor activities providers meet their health and safety responsibilities to those taking part and their employees. However, we want to hear from those who have first hand experience of the regime to guide us in what final plans should be taken forward."

The recommendation to abolish AALA and the associated regulations was made in the Government-commissioned report Common Sense, Common Safety.

The current licensing regime operates under the Activity Centres (Young Persons' Safety) Act 1995 and the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004.

Young people taking part in adventure activities are already protected by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The licensing regime essentially duplicates that protection but covers only the four specified adventure activities.

The new code of practice will help providers understand how to comply with legal requirements under HSWA. Subject to the outcome of the consultation, it could take the form of a statement of general principles applicable to all existing and emerging activities, or be more specifically aimed at a narrower range of activities.

The code will sit above existing non-statutory schemes such as those run by some national governing bodies (NGBs). The consultation includes consideration of the degree to which participation in an NGB scheme should be taken as sufficient reassurance of safety standards.

Notes to editors:

  1. The licensing regime is the responsibility of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA), which is currently the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with Tourism Quality Services (TQS) acting as the Licensing Service on behalf of HSE.
  2. The licensing regime covers only activities in four defined areas (trekking, water sports, caving and climbing). It does not cover these defined activities when provided by schools for their own pupils, provided by voluntary groups for their own members, or carried out by young people accompanied by their parents or legal guardians. Adventure activities undertaken by anyone over the age of 18 are also outside the scope of the licensing regime.
  3. The consultation is limited to post -AALA arrangements in England only and is without prejudice to any decisions by the Scottish and Welsh administrations on how they implement the recommendation, which will be made in due course.
  4. Removal of AALA will lead to an estimated saving of £1.7 million in the adventure activities sector in England over 10 years.
  5. To take part in the consultation visit