Basic Information

When building treehouses safety is of paramount importance. Having an understanding of the safety measures and responsibility for the safety of oneself and others is key.

There are the three essential safety rules:

1. When at the building site: You always wear a helmet

2. When you are high up: You are always secured

3. Do not stand under a load that is being lifted

The rationale behind the three rules is safety by simplicity. While more rules could add to safety it should be noted that more rules makes one less complicit with the first three. These rules cover most risks. The first rule makes sure there is awareness that it is a building site. The second makes sure that whatever technique you use, you are secured. The third makes you aware that lifting of loads is a critical risk. Safety is something you do as a team.

Further information

Explanation to the safety rules

The three safety rules don’t have to be explained much further for the ones using them, but to fully understand the reasoning and use of the rules and the simplicity, below a more expanded explanation.

1. When at the building site: Always wear a helmet.

This rule makes sure everyone knows it’s a building site. The rule counts for everyone involved, no matter how much experience, therefore it is clear. And everyone can help to keep this rule a 100% and remind people not wearing helmets. Also, by knowing one is on a building site, the importance of the safety measure will make people more cautious.

It is important to make clear visually, and if possible physically, where the site is a building site and where it is not.

2. When you are at height: you are secured.

This rule works in combination with knowing what securing is, and what counts as height. If someone isn’t instructed they stay on the ground. That way no one can ever break the rule.

What securing is, depends on the techniques one will use. It is smart to instruct people to only use techniques they are instructed in. Copying someone else is not learning when it is about securing at height. If people learned a securing technique they can be at height. Otherwise, they should be on the ground. When this is clear it possible to create a learning environment, where the group leaders can choose which techniques to explain at a certain time, instead of having to give a lot of information at once. Learning different techniques at the same time will create confusion and wrongly used techniques.

Knowing what counts as ‘being at height’ can be discussed within the group (leaders), or can be a law, depending on the country you are building in. Don’t forget to instruct the following: being in a finished treehouse also counts as an instructed technique to be secured at height. Hereby it has to clear what counts as a finished treehouse.

3. Do not stand under the load that is being lifted.

Since treehouse building techniques require wooden beams, boards or hottubs to be lifted by hand, there is a risk that a load will fall. Because of the weight this has great consequences if someone is standing under the lifted load.

You should always avoid to walk under a load. However sometimes it is not the worst option. This is the reason for the word ‘standing’ instead of ‘walking’. This is however never explained to a group. It is a more difficult rule. The use of the correct words in explaining safety might seem strange, but do put thought in the phrasing of your safety instruction.


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Institut für Erlebnispädagogik
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Funded by Erasmus+ "Youth in Action"

The website and the content was developed in the project "Treehouse Camps - a Method to Strengthen Key Competences and Integration in Youth Work".

Project duration: September 2018 - August 2021