Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Quapaw Area Council's Commitment to Safety - A Message from the Council Key 3

We want you to know that the safety of our youth, volunteers, staff, and employees in the Quapaw Area Council, BSA cannot be compromised. Health and safety must be integrated into everything we do to the point that no injuries are acceptable beyond those that are readily treatable by Scout-rendered first aid.

The Scouting program itself, activities Scouts participate in on a regular basis, and the outdoor classroom used in Scouting have inherent risks. A challenging program and activities help attract youth and retain them in Scouting. Perceived risk during such ventures heightens awareness and builds confidence and discipline vital to building tomorrow’s leaders.
There is a place in Scouting for age-appropriate events that push youth beyond their normal comfort level and stretch their abilities. This is appropriate when risks are identified and mitigated. One should not participate in or promote activities when risks are unknown or ignored. We must protect our youth as part of our program. In a sense, safety is our license to operate.

In particular, Scout leaders are responsible for the physical and mental well-being of everyone under their supervision. Parents who entrust Scout leaders with their children justifiably expect them to return uninjured.

To achieve that goal, everyone must work together to do the following:

   Know, understand, and comply with all rules, policies, and procedures. A great place to start is the Guide to Safe Scouting available in the Scout Shop (printed) or free of charge in an electronic form on Scouting Safely at www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety.aspx.   

   Model safe behaviors when participating in all Scouting related events.  Leaders set the standard when they use personal protective equipment, follow the rules themselves and take the time to explain why rules exist and how they protect all of us.

   Encourage staff, volunteer leaders, and youth members to share in the management of risk – identifying and reducing risk by enforcing safety rules and practices. 

   Promote, provide, and, when appropriate, require health and safety training.

   Report all incidents and near-miss reporting and hold staff members accountable for implementing reporting procedures at unit, district, and council levels.  Only through reporting can we work to identify issues and work to solve them and protect others.  Our Council’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Committee reviews reports and works to identify additional needs for training and action.

   Support enterprise risk management efforts via your District ERM Chair and the Council ERM Committee.   

   Support, encourage and demand adherence to the principles behind our Youth Protection Program.  There can be no exceptions.  All leaders must be trained and follow the rules to protect our youth. 

Thank you for being part of the Scouting movement and creating an exciting and safe experience for every participant in the Quapaw Area Council.  

A Safety Message from the Council Key 3

BSA to prohibit use of 15-passenger vans made before 2005

Fully loaded 15-passenger vans, like the ones you might use to haul a bunch of Scouts to camp, can be more dangerous than you might think.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 15-passenger vans with 10 or more occupants are three times more likely to roll over than ones carrying fewer than five passengers.
That’s why all Scouters should take heed of this breaking BSA news: Effective Sept. 1, 2015, the use of 15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 will no longer be allowed in connection with Scouting programs and activities.

15-passenger vans manufactured in 2005 or later may be used, as long as they are equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers and the driver.
This applies to all vehicles, regardless of ownership (privately owned, owned by chartered organization, rentals, etc.).

Why the rule?

First, it’s a fact that adults who are used to driving their SUV or passenger car often overestimate their skills when it comes to driving a 15-passenger van.
Also, the BSA has determined that the risk posed by the use of 15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 are such that they should not be used. Most pre-2005 vans without Electronic Stability Control have already been retired and are no longer in use.

Safety tips for using 15-passenger vans

Have a newer 15-passenger van that meets BSA requirements? Here are some safety tips from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that you should read:
  • Make sure that the vehicle is properly maintained (correct size tires, steering, brakes, ESC, etc.). The best practice is to complete an inspection checklist daily or before use.
  • Make sure drivers are trained and experienced in operating 15-passenger vans and are properly licensed. (There are online resources for drivers to learn about the safe operation of these vehicles. For example, see this link.
  • 15-passenger vans are very sensitive to loading and should not be overloaded under any circumstances. Agency research shows overloading not only increases rollover risk but also makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers. For example, passenger capacity should be reduced by one for every 150 pounds of gear, and roof-mounted storage units should not be used.
  • Make sure that properly sized tires are being used on the vehicle.
  • Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation and make sure there are no signs of excessive or uneven wear. The “penny test” is a good indicator of whether tread depth meets the minimum requirements.
  • Make sure all passengers wear seatbelts.

FAQs on this policy change

These come from the BSA’s general counsel.
Q. Where will this policy be published?
A. We will be adding this to the next update of the Guide to Safe Scouting and other BSA publications as they are modified.
Q. Can we remove seats from our 15-passenger vans to meet this new policy?
A. No. Improper loading of cargo can be just as much of a hazard to the driver as a passenger loaded vehicle is to occupants.
Q. Does this apply to our chartered organizations?
A. Yes. The prohibition applies to any vehicles used in connection with Scouting programs or activities. This applies regardless of ownership, including rental vehicles.
Q. Does this apply to camp vehicles used off public roads at low speed if they are not registered for highway use?
A. Yes. The prohibition applies to any vehicles used in connection with Scouting programs or activities. This applies regardless of ownership, including rental vehicles.
Q. Why is the BSA taking this action?
A. The history of injuries due to accidents involving these vehicles coupled with the availability of vehicles with ESC makes it appropriate to take this additional precaution to prevent injuries.