OBB prevention measures COVID19

This document presents guidelines for COVID-19 prevention in Outward Bound Belgium, supplementing Outward Bound standard procedures for accident prevention and response. The document is part of the report of the Special Safety Committee meeting of May 5, 2020. 
The guidelines are based on an overview of information and measures by the relevant authorities and research bodies[1].

This is an internal document aimed at COVID-19 prevention in Outward Bound Belgium™ programs. We make our guidelines publicly available in order to promote joint learning and adaptation to the new Corona reality. These measures are not necessarily adequate or applicable in other contexts! The use of this document requires thoughtful assessment of the effectiveness of these guidelines in your own work and living environment. Its use also requires regular updates based on evolving knowledge and changing circumstances.
We hope to establish trust by sharing and make confidence grow to engage in further outdoor learning. More broadly we aim to make our sector ever more resilient.

We wish you safe and fruitful learning opportunities!
Kobe Smits
CEO Outward Bound Belgium™

The following text is a summary of the COVID19 prevention measures. Click here to download this summary in a pdf format.
To read the full version, click on the link below

OBB Prevention measures COVID19

1. Prevention measures in Outward Bound program planning 

The following guidelines apply to all Outward Bound Belgium’s standard courses. For all other courses, COVID-19 prevention needs to be addressed in the program-specific Risk Analysis (procedure ‘Risicoanalyse Programma buiten Standaard’). 

Risk assessment

OBB determines a risk level for every Outward Bound program based on the participant group and government guidelines. We make a distinction between

  • ‘Spreaders’: Outward Bound groups differ with regard to the probability that they spread the virus, i.e. the probability that they bring the virus in and infect others, i.e.:
  • ‘Receivers’: Outward Bound groups differ with regard to susceptibility to infection and severe course of disease:

Epidemic outbreaks: the risk level needs to take into account authority guidelines based on evolving infection rates, hospitalization numbers and mortality.


OBB assigns trainers to courses so that the risk that trainers spread SARS-CoV2 from group to group is minimalized. This implies a.o.:

  • Trainers are not assigned to a high-risk receiver course within ≥2 weeks of training a high-risk spreader course;
  • Trainers for a high-risk receiver course cannot during ≥2 weeks preceding that course physically work together with trainers of a high-risk spreader course;
  • Trainers are assigned to any course only after instruction of the Outward Bound Belgium COVID-19 guidelines and instruction on hand hygiene [2] and the use of mouth masks [3].

The conditions for participants also apply to trainers, i.e.:

  • Free of COVID-19 symptoms or recent attestation of negative diagnosis;
  • For participants that recovered from COVID-19: free of symptoms during ≥14 days.


OBB plans accommodation according to the program risk level. Accommodation differs with regard to the possibilities for ‘physical distancing’ and hygiene measures. Relevant characteristics include:

  • Available space, volume and possibilities for ventilation:
    meeting rooms: ≥1,5m distance between seats in a circle, tilt windows for ventilating;
    sleeping rooms: ≥1,5m distance between the (head ends) of beds, tilt windows (or airco) for ventilating;
    kitchen/eating room: ≥1,5m distance between chairs at the table.  
  • Availability of more or less personal versus shared sanitary facilities;
  • Availability of sufficient space for adequate equipment management.  

Single-person bedrooms are recommended for residential high-risk programs.
Outside debriefings and meals are recommended if weather conditions are favorable.

The trainer verifies before the program start, that the accommodation allows for so-called ‘protective barrier behaviors’, including physical distancing and hygiene measures.

OBB verifies that Outward Bound housing in Anhée and Lustin is cleaned between 2 courses, including a ≥90°C-laundry of all bed, kitchen and bathroom linen; cleaning of all work surfaces and high-touch objects with soap.

OBB also verifies before the course start that the accommodation is set up with respect to physical distancing and also verifies that:

  • Each sink has hand soap and paper towels;
  • Each kitchen, bathroom and sleeping room is equipped with a closable trash container;
  • There is a closable laundry bag available per group for every course day.


OBB (in consultation with the client) plans for catering according to the program risk level. Relevant characteristics include:

  • Serving: no sharing of utensils;
  • Cooking and doing dishes: no sharing of cooking supplies

For meals in high-risk programs, personal portions are recommended.

OBB makes sure that in Anhée and Lustin all incoming goods are brought in quarantine before making them available to trainers or participants, i.e.:

  • Cardboard containers are quarantined for 24 hours;
  • Plastic and equivalent containers are quarantined for 72 hours;
  • Frozen products are disinfected with isopropanol spray and airdry for 3’ before they are put in the freezer.

Quarantining takes place in a well-ventilated space with normal housing temperature.


OBB plans for transportation according to the program risk level. Relevant characteristics include:

  • Avaliable volume and ventilation during transportation;
  • Transportation time.

OBB verifies before the course start that the vehicles are cleaned and equipped with disinfecting hand sanitizer.

Agreements with the customer

OBB verifies which Corona prevention measures the customer organization adopts for the Outward Bound program (in order to determine the program risk level) and clarifies in the offer that Outward Bound complies with the Corona guidelines of the relevant Belgian authorities and the Outward Bound Belgium COVID-19 prevention measures in this document.

 COVID-19 prevention measures are part of the safety instructions as meant in the Safety Procedures (Veiligheidsplan).

Participant information

OBB verifies in consultation with the customer that participant pre-course information clarifies that participants haven’t shown any COVID-19 symptoms during ≥14 days.

OBB verifies in consultation with the customer that pre-course information clarifies that participants are to bring the following items to the program:

  • Sufficient number of mouth masks and / or equivalent facial covers;
  • Gloves;
  • Natural soap;
  • Hand sanitizer;
  • Paper tissues;
  • Possibly: glasses or safety goggles


OBB verifies that the activity equipment, including personal and collective equipment, is cleaned before the program start, either with soap and/or washed at ≥90°C or ventilated during ≥72hours. There will be a system available to personalize equipment for the duration of the program.

A disinfecting hand sanitizer is available with the equipment log in the equipment room.

First aid kits

OBB verifies that the first aid kits are complemented with the following items:

  • Surgical or FFP2 mouth masks, within immediate reach;
  • Disinfecting hand sanitizer;
  • Medical gloves: sufficient number, within immediate reach

2. Preventive measures during Outward Bound activities 

The following guidelines are an addition to the Outward Bound Belgium prevention procedures (Veiligheidsplan, version 2019 09).

The OBB facilitator gives instructions regarding the following COVID-19 prevention measures at the course start or before the first activity in which they become relevant:

Hygiene measures

  • Avoid touching objects that are easily infected and on which SARS-CoV2 is relatively stable (e.g. open and close doors with your elbows, …);
  • Wash your hands with running water and soap regularly and thoroughly. Do so at least:
    Before and after each activity;
    Before and after using and clearing equipment;
    Before and after each transportation;
    Before and after meal preparation;
    Before and after meals;
    Before and after bathroom use;
    Before and after sleeping.
    Use a disinfecting hand sanitizer when water and soap are not available.
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands.
  • cough or sneeze in a paper tissue or in the inside of your elbow. Put paper tissues in a closable trash container immediately after use.
  • ventilate / air de meeting room, kitchen, bedrooms and other shared spaces after use.

Distancing measures

  • Do not shake or otherwise touch each other’s hands.
  • Avoid physical contact with other people:
    Respect a physical distance of ≥1,5m whenever possible;
    Reduce contact time when smaller distances are necessary.
  • Wear gloves for alternating use of collective equipment.  

Facial covering[4]:

cover your airways with a mask or acceptable alternative facial cover (see Annex 2) in each of the following situations:

  • Physical distance is or is likely to become <1,5m;
  • With several people in one room, e.g. meeting, cooking, doing dishes…

Verify that everyone changes and/or washes their facial cover daily[5].

Personal equipment

individualize your personal equipment that you will use repeatedly during the course wherever possible

In addition, the following measures also apply during the program

The OBB facilitator will point fixed seats, including drivers, in the vehicles used for course transportation. The OBB facilitator also cleans the ignition key, steering wheel, gear shift and dashboard with soap when changing drivers. There will be no use of indoor air circulation in the vehicle.

During Meals / catering the OBB facilitator will instruct on serving meals and doing dishes to respect physical distance and avoid indirect contact through utensils, dishes and surfaces.

Outward Bound activities

OBB exclusively offers activities that are feasible under physical distancing conditions:

  • Dynamics that require repeated or continuous close contact are not allowed;
  • Ropes course elements that require regular close contact are not allowed;
  • Activities that require punctual close contact are subject of a directed LMRA (e.g. belaying at the ropes course or when rock climbing, shared lifelines at the Klettersteig, spotting in the cave, ...).

The OBB facilitator will considers at least the following prevention measures during the LMRA:

  • Facial covering;
  • The use of gloves.

The OBB facilitator will avoid conducting ‘hands-on checks’ of safety equipment: guideline 9.14 in the Outward Bound prevention procedures is repealed under COVID-19 circumstances. The OBB facilitator will

  • Check the equipment of every individual participant visually;
  • Ask every participant to perform the ‘hands-on’ part of the check themselves
  • Conduct a ‘hands-on check’ if necessary to eliminate doubt.


[1] Primarily the Belgian FPS Health (www.info-coronavirus.be/nl) en Sciensano (https://covid-19.sciensano.be/nlhttps://epidemio.wiv-isp.be/ID/Pages/2019-nCoV_procedures.aspx), the World Health Organization (WHO: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019), the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC: www.ecdc.europa.eu) and the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBaM: www.gezondheidenwetenschap.be/richtlijnen/mers-en-andere-coronavirusinfecties).

In addition the UZ Antwerpen (www.uza.be/coronavirus-informatie), UZ Leuven (o.a. www.uzleuven.be/nl/opleidingsmateriaal-covid-19) and the Rega Institute (https://rega.kuleuven.be/if/pdf_corona).

[2] See www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTf1xqLgRbo

[3] See www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2020/04/21/soorten-mondmaskers.

[4] Facial covering is an effective form of ‘source control’, also by means of alternatives to surgical masks – whether or not self-made.

[5] Cleaning can in the following ways: For surgical masks: not – these masks are disposable, meant for use during maximum 1 day; For alternative facial covers: to be disinfected by (1) washing daily at ≥60°C or (2) soaking in Dettol or Ethanol for ≥30 minutes and thoroughly rinsing afterwards. Both types of facial covers are to be kept in a clean container and to be touched as little as possible during use.

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