Safe Pioneering

Link to: Older Pamphlet Info

These 22 Safety Points are included in the manuscript for the next edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge.

The following text is by Adolph E. Peschke as presented in the 1998 printing of the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

As you begin your pioneering activities, safety must be your first consideration. The following safety points are some that you and your group should keep in mind:

  1. Check all equipment, rope, tools, and hardware to ensure they are in good working condition.
  2. Appoint a safety officer as soon as you arrive at the work site.
  3. The safety officer, along with the rest of the group, should constantly check the work site to keep it clean of debris. Equipment should be kept in an organized fashion.
  4. During the construction of a project, only one person should give instructions and signals.
  5. Do not work during rainy or wet conditions. Rope and spars become slippery, as does your footing. Knots can slip when wet and become unsafe.
  6. Wear clothing to fit the season and wear gloves when necessary to protect your hands.
  7. Take regular breaks to discuss the work in progress and ensure that everyone understands what is required of them.
  8. Double-check all anchors and holdfasts on the pioneering project as strain is applied during use.
  9. Test the structure or bridge before allowing general use.
  10. Ensure that you have good footing, use both hands to make the work easier, and do not lift more than you can handle.
  11. When the day’s work is complete, untie all knots, coil all ropes, check all hardware, and store everything in its proper place.
  12. When tying knots that will be out of reach, secure the running end with a piece of light cord.
  13. When the bottom end of a spar, such as the leg of a tower, rests on hard ground, it should be “heeled in”— that is, set in a 4″ to 6” deep hole to keep it from shifting.
  14. When raising towers, have at least two hoisting lines on the opposite side to prevent overpulling the proper position.
  15. If the design calls for a certain size and type of rope or spar, do not substitute something of lesser strength.

Here are some obvious but necessary additional safety measures that should be remembered:


  • Spars resting on the ground are not for standing upon. They can unexpectedly roll causing injuries.
  • Only one person at a time belongs on a ladder. Persons coming down from a project use the ladder first.
  • Racing up or down a ladder can result in slipping and an accident.
  • The number of people using a platform should be strictly limited to the maximum number established beforehand and announced by the safety officer.
  • Jumping or playing around while on a platform is totally unnecessary and can have dire results.
  • When lifting the a spar to facilitate the frapping of a tripod lashing, care should always be taken to ensure that the person working the rope doesn’t injure his fingers.
  • There should always be plenty of room between the person carrying spars and other people.
  • When working with newer manila lashing ropes, rope splinters can be avoided by wearing gloves.
  • When using heavy mallets to pound in pioneering stakes, pain can be avoided by being especially careful.
  • All equipment should be treated with respect and used appropriately for its intended purpose.

Monkey Bridges

  • There should only be one person on a monkey bridge at a time.
  • While crossing the bridge, people shouldn’t bounce or purposely swing or sway on the ropes, nor should anyone race to see how quickly they can get across, which can easily lead to losing their footing.
  • Those waiting their turn to cross the bridge should stay off the ropes between the anchors and the bridge framework.
  • Whenever the foot rope and/or hand ropes are being tightened, or the spanner ropes are being adjusted, everyone should stay completely off the bridge.