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Power tools used by scouts during service projects

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We continue to have disagreements in our troop concerning what age a scout has to be to use power tools. Certain equipment like hammer drill, snowblower, drill press, power auger for digging post holes, wench or gas tamper are not listed in the age guidelines list on scouting.org. If it isn't listed, do we assume it is not allowed to be used under 18 yo? http://www.scouting.org/filestore/healthsafety/pdf/680-028.pdf. Is there a more complete or current list elsewhere? I am sort of new at this! I work with a troop and OA in Virginia.

http://www.scouting.org/HealthandSafety/GSS.aspx

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Hi - welcome to the forum!

 

The BSA admits the list is not comprensive (it surprises me that one of the most common power tools, the hand drill, is not mentioned) but you should be able to use the list that is there to determine what those age limits might be.

 

For instance, I would equate a snowblower with a lawnmower so would say 16 plus (there is a "deck" between the operator and the rotating blade the same way there is a deck between the operator and the rotating blade of a lawn mower - and most lawn mowers and snowblowers have the same kind of safety handle where when you let it go, stops the blades from spinning).  I would probably say 18 plus for a power auger since the rotating blade of the auger has no deck (or safety shield) between the operator and the blade.

 

I think ultimately though, it's really up to the comfort level of the parent or adult leader in charge, whoever has the strictest criteria.  If the adult leader decides that a 14 year old using a hammer drill is ok but 14-year old Scout Ben's parents say its not ok for their son, then the parents prevali.  By the same token, if 16-year old Scout Scotts's parents say its ok for him to use a gas tamper but the Scoutmaster says "nope, not in this Troop", then the Scoutmaster prevails. 

 

So what does that mean for your question?  Sorry but I readily admit it's just punting the question right back to you folks  - we can give you ideas of what we think you can do, but ultimately, you folks have to make the decisions.

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We continue to have disagreements in our troop concerning what age a scout has to be to use power tools. Certain equipment like hammer drill, snowblower, drill press, power auger for digging post holes, wench or gas tamper are not listed in the age guidelines list on scouting.org. If it isn't listed, do we assume it is not allowed to be used under 18 yo? http://www.scouting.org/filestore/healthsafety/pdf/680-028.pdf. Is there a more complete or current list elsewhere? I am sort of new at this! I work with a troop and OA in Virginia.

http://www.scouting.org/HealthandSafety/GSS.aspx

The problem is that the age guidelines for tool use are basically absurd. You have to be 14 before using a little red wagon (4 wheel cart)? A 13 year old can't use an electric screwdriver or a paint roller with an extension? You have to be 16 before using a lawn mower (I was mowing the lawn when I was ten)?

 

I would say ignore the absurd guidelines and use actual common sense. @@CalicoPenn has it right, it really depends on the scouts, parents and leaders. I've met 16 year-olds that shouldn't be allowed near a screwdriver (electric or otherwise), and once met an 11 year old that was routinely operating heavy farm machinery. So it all depends.

 

Based on the BSA tool guidelines I'm surprised they don't have rule that says: "Allowed to chew their own food - Youth 10 years old and over." I'm sure that is just an over site that will be fixed in the next version of the GTSS. Along with the rule "must where appropriate protective gear, including helmet and knee protectors, when walking on unpaved surfaces".

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.... . Along with the rule "must where appropriate protective gear, including helmet and knee protectors, when walking on unpaved surfaces".

I know of several hikes where such compliance would have done me good. All such injuries were acquired when I was an adult!

 

The list comes from OSHA guidelines. Some of us think there is a large gap between what could be required for employing youth, and what is needed for youth in volunteer organizations.

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I must say, that when at age 12 I arrived at the scout house for a work day. I thought it was the coolest thing that the SPL showed me how to nail drywall and use a mitre saw.

 

With that in mind, consider that our service projects should be geared toward vocational training in the broad sense. That is, scouts aren't apprentice carpenters, but some may one day be while others will be the architects designing the plans, the engineers designing the tools and materials, and the executives determining if they should build their next warehouse. All of them will benefit from holding a hammer in their hands.

 

So, when selecting tools for a project, it is wise to think if you can make do with several post hole diggers. There'll be opportunities to work a power auger when they have a better sense of the forces at play in moving earth. So, age boundaries are useles. A 17 year-old just picking up a power auger never having dug a hole (let alone used one before) is much different than a 16 year old who's been running his own landscaping business for a year and had a proven track record of reading and following safety instructions when grabbing a new tool.

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I must say, that when at age 12 I arrived at the scout house for a work day. I thought it was the coolest thing that the SPL showed me how to nail drywall and use a mitre saw.

With that in mind, consider that our service projects should be geared toward vocational training in the broad sense. That is, scouts aren't apprentice carpenters, but some may one day be while others will be the architects designing the plans, the engineers designing the tools and materials, and the executives determining if they should build their next warehouse. All of them will benefit from holding a hammer in their hands.

So, when selecting tools for a project, it is wise to think if you can make do with several post hole diggers. There'll be opportunities to work a power auger when they have a better sense of the forces at play in moving earth. So, age boundaries are useles. A 17 year-old just picking up a power auger never having dug a hole (let alone used one before) is much different than a 16 year old who's been running his own landscaping business for a year and had a proven track record of reading and following safety instructions when grabbing a new tool.

This is how all rules end up catering to the lowest common denominator.

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I think this is a great opportunity for someone that knows what they're doing to show someone that has never used a tool before to learn and make it useful. The big IFs here are common sense, do you trust the teacher and the student, and will there be enough time to do it right? If so, go for it.

 

Power augers that I have used can get out of hand quickly and I'd say no unless the scout is big enough to handle it and an adult is on the other side of it. Gas powered tampers are less of a problem but you do need size and strength. Power screw drivers? saws? No problem. Wenches can get out of hand, too. It's more of a mind game thing then size that is required. What kind of a service project uses wenches anyway?

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scoutldr, your observation about wenches seems to be zipping right over some Scouterly noggins.  :D

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scoutldr, your observation about wenches seems to be zipping right over some Scouterly noggins.  :D

In Venturing, wenches wield sledgehammers. Solves multiple problems. ;)

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Once upon a time,  I took some art classes with the Architecture department at school.  They offered a "practical" week at a restoration project in Cape May NJ. It was the historic hotel  Chalfonte (look it up, nice old place).   I went up with about a dozen archy students.  I never met so many unhandy kids up to that point in my life.  Some needed instruction (!) in how to use a hammer.   Clean the paint brush after it was used?  We bought so many new brushes I couldn't believe it.  There were some that did take the building trades seriously, but many , seriously, looked on the "practical" week as a free trip to the beach.  Some one else will clean up, some one else will put the tools away, someone else will cover that hole.....   

Thinking about it, I wish I could remember those names so I could avoid their buildings (!). 

 And the water   was cold in the fall up there.  But the Physick  House was very nice, and the Chalfonte is still there....

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Armor polishing for ren-faire jousting knights?

CP, I'm filing that away. A friend who drags his family to ren-faires has his boy in our troop. :laugh:

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Yah, hiya @@Im5kidsmom .  Welcome to da forums.

 

The age-appropriate guidance is just guidance, eh?  It's hard to help yeh out without knowin' where you are and what your kids are like.  Farm kids?  I reckon they've grown up around tools and can handle most of 'em.   Pampered city kids?  Might be dangerous with a hammer.

 

If yeh find the adults in a troop are havin' arguments like this, I think yeh have to get 'em to stop focusing on the BSA guidebooks and arguments over wording, and focus instead on the boys.   If the adults are reasonably experienced in tool use, they can tell pretty easily where the boys are at.  Yeh should let the adults who are handy observe and talk to the kids and make determinations on that basis.

 

To my mind there are two things to really avoid, eh?

 

Da first is to assume the lads (or other adults) have more capability than they do, eh?  Yeh want to see 'em handle a tool in a controlled circumstance, not rely on what a fellow says, or what you assume a boy or adult that age should be able to do.  It takes more than just instruction to have da judgment to handle tools well, eh?  It takes some time and experience.

 

The second mistake is to infantilize kids.   We should be helpin' lads Be Prepared for life, eh?   That means knowin' how to take care of themselves and their families, includin' how to use tools responsibly.  Most Boy Scout aged youth are capable of handling ordinary power tools, and most high-school aged youth are capable of handling anything with instruction and some practice.   So help 'em learn, and help 'em build good safety habits when they are young that will protect them (and others) for the rest of their lives. 

 

We let lads use firearms, after all.  Da shotgun a lad uses for Shotgun Sports MB is more of an objective hazard than a drill press.  ;)

 

Beavah

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What kind of a service project uses wenches anyway?

 

Who else is gonna fetch yer Ale after a hard day sloggin' stones out in the field in service to the King?

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