Health and Safety


Be Risk Aware, Be Scout Safe

Recreational Health and Safety

Scouts NSW aims to safely deliver a fun, challenging and adventurous program that excites young people and their families. It figures that most of what we do is described as recreational. Various activities procedures and child protection procedures, fact sheets etc are in place to help us fulfil our ethical and legal duties in relation to providing a healthy and safe recreational environment.

Workplace Health and Safety

In order to support the recreational activities, work is done by professional employed staff and volunteers. Work can be performed in offices, Scout Halls, activity centres, camp sites etc. During work activities, Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws apply. Guidance is provided on what activities typically are regarded as work and everyone who performs work – paid or unpaid- must follow the WHS procedures.

Safety Alerts and Legislative Updates

To view a full list of Safety Alerts and Legislative Updates, please click here.

Avoiding Summer Hazards 

September 2021

With summer's official start date only a few weeks away, it is a good time to think about ways to prepare for a bush fire. Preparing for a bush fire is easier than you think. It’s your responsibility to prepare yourself, your home, and your family.

Click here to read four simple steps on how to prepare for bush fire season.

Managing the Risk of Working in the Heat

This Guide provides practical guidance on how to manage the risks associated with working in heat and information on what to do if a person begins to suffer from a heat-related illness.

Click here to read the guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

See the FAQs below for further information about how recreation and work procedures co-exist at Scouts NSW.

Health and Safety

Under the NSW WHS laws, a volunteer organisation that has one or more paid staff members, such as Scouts Australia NSW, has WHS duties to all its workers, including its volunteers.
Volunteers and employed staff are called workers and under the WHS laws, and must take reasonable care when conducting activities that might be deemed work.

When an incident occurs, the first step is to manage the immediate situation – move people away from further danger and get first aid and medical assistance for any casualties.

If the incident is serious, call your manager or Group Leader/Leader in Charge as soon as possible once the initial situation is under control.  This person will escalate the matter to the appropriate senior volunteers or senior employed staff members.  Serious incidents typically are those that endanger life or injures that require admission to hospital as an inpatient for immediate treatment or emergency surgery. Being treated in casualty and then being released is not considered admission as an inpatient.

If the incident is serious and has arisen as a result of paid or unpaid work, it is notifiable to SafeWork NSW. Once the initial situation has been managed, you must: cease work and preserve the scene from disturbance. Call your manager or leader in charge (as above). Tell them the incident is serious and arrange to inform the CEO immediately (including on weekend). The CEO and Head of Risk will review the situation and arrange to notify SafeWork NSW. You might be required to remain in place until SafeWork NSW attends the site to investigate.  If in doubt, escalate the issue.  Failing to report a ‘notifiable incident’ is an offence and penalties apply.

For serious work related incidents, the CEO is normally responsible for notifying the regulator.  If unable to contact the CEO, contact Head of Risk or Marketing and Communications Manager. 

Serious incidents that are purely recreational are not notifiable to the WHS regulator. Similarly, incidents that happen during work but have nothing to do with the work are not notifiable to Safe Work NSW eg if a person suffers a heart attack or other acute illness which is unrelated to the work it is not notifiable to the regulator.

All incidents must be reported using the Scouts NSW on-line health and safety incident report. A paper-based form can be used as an interim step if on-line reporting is not available, however the incident must later be reported when on-line reporting is available.

Whether an activity is defined as work under the WHS laws depends on the specific circumstances of the activity. It may not always be apparent whether a particular task is work. There would be other tasks defined as work that are not specifically mentioned in the list of work above.

If in doubt, treat the activity as work and follow the more stringent requirements if there is a difference. For example, document your risk assessments, verify that operators or leaders are competent and report serious incidents immediately to your manager or the leader in charge and preserve the scene. Remember that both WHS and recreational activities require you to fulfil a duty of care regardless of work or not work. Follow the applicable procedures, which are designed to enable you to fulfil our responsibilities including WHS, adventurous activities, child protection, data privacy and code of conduct.

The requirements are actually very similar to the expected duty of care for many recreational activities.  However where work is involved, it is specifically covered by the law.  Where there is a sufficient health and safety risk, you should document it.

  • Consult with your workers about health & safety
  • Consider the safety of all workers – as well as any contractors, and members of the public.
  • Maintain the area and facilities in a safe condition
  • Provide a site induction and confirm other skills
  • Assess the risk of the activity, as well as site specific risks. Remove or minimise the risks.
  • Make sure emergency and first aid arrangements are in place
  • Follow the relevant WHS Procedure and complete any required Forms, e.g. inspection checklist, mower pre-start checklist.

Work is not defined in the WHS legislation so we use an every-day meaning of work. Work may be paid or unpaid and essentially can be seen as tasks that enable Scouts to operate, or work that someone would normally be paid for.

At Scouts Australia NSW, activities that are considered work include:

  • Employed Staff: all work performed by paid staff.
  • Maintenance and Working Bees: eg mowing lawns or managing or participating in a working bee to maintain a scout hall or camp.
  • Setting up the infrastructure for a major event eg supplying power, installing amenities.
  • Container Deposit Scheme: eg tasks associated with operating the Container Deposit Scheme.
  • Leader Training: eg training a new Scout leader in skills to lead a group of scouts in a range of recreational or social activities. Note this does not include simply training a leader how to run a sporting game with youths.
  • Gang Show – All aspects of Gang Show and Performance Arts
  • SAIT (trainers and trainees): Teaching, or being trained in, skills where the certification could be commercially exploited. This would include the trainees (i.e. first aid, certificate II, III, or IV’s).
  • Work done by a contractor or tradesperson eg plumbing repairs, alterations, setting up major events etc
  • Meetings associated with enabling Scouts to operate eg asset management, insurance committee meetings.
  • Follow reasonable instructions, policies, procedures provided
  • Carry out activities within the role you have been given
  • Do not carry out activities which you have not got the skills to do
  • Do not do anything, or do not instruct another person to do anything, that would be apparently unsafe.