Posted on: March 24, 2010 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

Query from Christopher Monteiro-Sharratt; Could you advise me on health and safety pertaining to organised excursions, schools trips, and group visits to business sties.

I am trying to write a report on the laws and regulations that deal with organised school trips and excursions, even if the participants are adults over 18.

Response from Dr Heidi Fourie, Curator: Vertebrate Palaeontology, Ditsong National Museum of Natural History; All practices must remain aligned with the South African Constitution. Allow no unfair discrimination against visitors. Fair discrimination may be exercised if it could be defended in court, for example, declaring and signposting your site as a gun free zone. Such discrimination is ‘limitation of rights’ and not ‘infringement of rights’.

School activities are governed by the South African Schools Act, 84 of 1996. Visit

A guideline is available in the code of conduct enforced by the SA Council for Educators, SACE, which supports relevant legislation. Some tourist site and tourist guide codes of conduct are based on SACE code principles. Visit

Good practice dictates that there should be one guide or teacher per 30 visitors or learners. Most schools prefer an adult or teacher for every 25 learners.

Learners are considered to be children, even if they are over 18 years old, and this means that they lack discretion, named ‘judicium’ in law. The tour guide has to assume responsibility for informing, guiding and coaching visitors. The guide has to be aware of site risks, risk management measures, and trained in conducting an induction session.

The guide has to anticipate anything stupid that visitors may do, and prevent injuries to visitors, or visitors wandering on site alone.

Windows and glass, even safety glass in cubicles or display cabinets, are among the major risks to visitors. Guides should stand at windows or cabinets with visitors.

Slip and trip hazards at rams, stairs, and walkways are among the major risks.

If negligence of the host is alleged, the court would apply the ‘reasonable person’ test. Did the host act like a reasonable person to find and manage hazards, and to foresee and prevent risk.

If the site is in a dangerous area, it is reasonable to apply access control, like security checks, and locking doors when the group is inside.

Assess, manage, record editor SHEQafrica comments; Sites that receive visitors from time to time, should conduct a visitor risk assessment, aided by a SHEQ professional, and integrate visitor risk into the site management and audit system.

Visitor related risk assessments, improvements, minor incidents, investigations, and correspondence should be recorded.

Signage, pamphlets, guides and access controls should each guide visitors along pre planned routes, without contradictions. Group size should be limited to 20, or less, according to available space on site. A shop floor or room should accommodate a maximum of one person per two square metres.

Visitors are subject to the same rules as workers, including induction, reporting points, pathways, doorways, personal protective equipment (PPE). Ablution facilities should be adequate to maximum visitor groups.

First aid officials and first aid equipment should take account of the maximum size of visitor groups. Injuries have to be reported to the Department of Labour and provincial authorities.

Hygiene is one of the main health risks at catering and ablution facilities. Maintenance, cleaning, consumables and waste management regimes should meet the maximum visitor capacity. Foam water cups, paper plates and plastic utensils are among the labour saving and energy saving measures used at sites with a high visitor frequency.

Everyone on site should be aware of visiting groups. Housekeeping is one of the ways to minimise visitor risks, for example, by secure stacking and removal of sharps that would otherwise be known only to workers. Some sites mark visitors with pink hard hats or pink reflective vests.

Horseplay is among the major risks that visitors are prone to. Warn visitors not to run or touch equipment. Allocate sufficient time for a relaxed pace, to prevent rushing on site.

Schedule visits to not coincide with maintenance, major cleaning, materials handling, goods reception or dispatch.


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