As warmer weather begins to hit many areas of the country, many people look to spend more time outdoors, enjoying nature at camps. Whether a camp operator provides lodges and cabins for guests, or campsites for tents, there are common risks for these operators to be aware of and has recommendations for preventing potential claims this camping season.
From a recent three-year review of camp operators, Philadelphia Insurance Company found high severity liability claims predominantly fell into one of four categories:
- Falls from heights – camp guests falling from trees, towers, roofs, climbing walls, etc.
- Playground and challenge course injuries – camp guests being injured while playing on recreational equipment, such as playground equipment, jumping pillows and pads, and swings
- Aquatic losses – injuries and drownings from diving, swimming, boating, or other water activities
- Trees and tree limbs falling onto campers
4 simple steps to prevent claims:
1. Give special attention to high risk equipment and activities. For playgrounds, challenge courses/climbing walls, swings, and special recreational equipment, be sure you have the following in place:
- Installation should be completed by an experienced company that can certify the installation followed the manufacturer’s instructions
- Supervision should be provided and employees should be trained on safe operation as outlined by the manufacturer or as indicated by best practices from organizations such as the Climbing Wall Association, the American Camp Association, or the National Program for Playground Safety
- Inspections and maintenance should be in place per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Conduct daily visual inspections for hazards and annual inspections for structural soundness and adherence to industry best practices (such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Public Playground Safety Handbook)
2. For aquatics, be sure you comply with local laws and industry best practices. Supervision should be in place for minors by either their guardian or by lifeguards employed by your camp.
3. Ensure you have risk transfer and adequate warnings in place. Guests should sign waivers for usage of higher risk activities. Any third parties who install, inspect, maintain, or operate higher risk operations on your site should provide you with a certificate of insurance with your camp named as an additional insured. Also, have clear warning signs around areas with bodies of water or higher risk activities. These signs should clearly indicate restrictions and rules for those areas, and you should enforce all rules.
4. Employ an arborist or have experienced personnel inspect your camp’s trees. These experts should identify and safely remove any trees or tree limbs that are showing signs of falling over or breaking off.IMPORTANT NOTICE – The information and suggestions is for your consideration in your loss prevention efforts. They are not intended to be complete or definitive in identifying all hazards associated with your business, preventing workplace accidents, or complying with any safety related, or other, laws or regulations. You are encouraged to alter them to fit the specific hazards of your business and to have your legal counsel review all of your plans and company policies.