The regulations state that any commercial concern that provides caving, climbing, water sports or trekking activities for a fee to under 18s, and without a parent or guardian being present, must have a licence to do so.
These licences are obtained from the Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALS). The specific definitions of the four outdoor adventure activities are as follows:
- Caving or potholing – the exploration of caves, underground passages, disused mines, cave diving and all other similar activities that require climbing and diving equipment to be safe
- Climbing – climbing, traversing, abseiling and scrambling on natural terrain and man-made structures, excepting man-made rock walls, which need safety equipment
- Water sports – sailing, water-skiing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and windsurfing when done more than 50 metres away from land or when water is turbulent. Rowing with oars, or rafting powered by a motor are not included.
- Trekking – walking, running, pony and horse trekking, biking, skiing when not on a specific ski piste and any other similar activity that takes place on land that is 600metres above sea level or more than 30 minutes from a road or refuge.
Getting an adventure activities licence
To get the necessary licence the AALS must be contacted. There will be forms to fill in, an inspection to pass and a fee to pay. The areas in which the activity provider must conform to regulations are:
- Risk assessment – all potential risks that could develop into actual harm to a person during an activity need to be assessed, taking into account the limitations of young people. This should be done by the activity providers; if no employee is capable of doing this then an external assessor must be used. There should be regular re-evaluation of risks and a new assessment done if any activity is changed.
- Control measures – the risk assessment must identify what control measures are necessary to potential dangers.
- Staff – staff must be qualified and experienced in the activity that they will be supervising.
- Safety information – this must be provided to all staff and all customers, not only made available though, this needs to be actively given to people.
- Equipment – must be adequate to provide safety and be maintained to at least this level.
- First aid – there must be qualified first aiders to provide treatment and well provisioned equipment for doing so.
These requirements are enforced the Health and Safety Executive.