Mike Malone asks; … we’ve been informed that, for safety reasons, Scouts are now not allowed to be on any handmade structure more than 3-4 feet off the ground. Is that the current rule?
I checked the Guide to Safe Scouting and found two statements that may be applicable:
An approved climbing helmet must be worn during all BSA climbing/rappelling activities when the participant’s feet are more than shoulder height above ground level.
Monkey bridges should not be constructed higher than 5 feet above flat-surfaced ground nor longer than 40 feet. Initially, beginners should not span more than 25 feet.
This would lead me to believe that the general height restriction is ‘shoulder height’. I suppose that the intention is the height of the participant’s shoulder otherwise there would be a specific number stated. The Monkey bridge height restriction is unambiguous.
I don’t have a current copy of the Pioneering Merit Badge Book (2006 revision), but someone out there does. (I wish these were all available in PDF format!) I would imagine the merit badge book would be the best source for additional height restrictions.
MY ADVICE (only advice; not policy) –
When I build pioneering projects they don’t have any platforms or places to stand more than 6-8 feet off the ground and we keep a close eye on Scouts using them. Am I afraid of being sued? No. What I am concerned about is the safety of my Scouts.
Can someone build a 40′ tall pioneering tower that is absolutely safe? Probably. I am a carpenter by trade and have spent plenty of time on ladders and scaffolds. I have also seen people fall off of ladders and scaffolding. Even a fall of six to eight feet can have some pretty serious consequences.
Anyone out there have a better answer?