Physical Environment

This section looks at the surroundings that youth are in, whether they are developmentally appropriate and safe, or pose inherent risks that need to be addressed.

Very Low Risk Exposure

Age-appropriate indoor space containing minimal hazards and contagions


  • Appropriately sized chairs & equipment
  • Areas free of fall zones

Low Risk Exposure

Outdoor spaces containing minimal inherent hazards


  • Quad
  • Legacy Fields
  • Housing Green Space

Moderate Risk Exposure

Younger children in otherwise secure spaces designed for adults


  • Most USU classrooms, if left unmodified

High Risk Exposure

Proximity to rugged terrain, bodies of water, or moving vehicles; spaces with equipment that requires supervision


  • Mountain trails
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Waterfront
  • Busy roads
  • Loading docks
  • Art studios
  • Kitchens

Very High Risk Exposure

Spaces with hazardous materials or equipment; environments where serious injury, abuse or illness can occur


  • Labs
  • Shops
  • Animal handling
  • Water features
  • Sheer drop off (>4-6 ft.) with no guard rails
  • Extreme weather
  • Locker rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Unsupervised bathrooms

Reducing Risk

Tips for reducing risk for Physical Environment

  • Seek out environments that suit your age group. For elementary aged youth avoid use of rooms that have tablet arm chairs, which can cause injuries if not used properly. If in a space designed for adults, assess any potential hazards, such as equipment that may cause injuries to minors if not properly supervised.
  • Plan routes around campus that steer clear of loading docks or other potential fall zones and streets with car or bus traffic.
  • Have a plan for indoor activities in the case of inclement weather or poor air quality.
  • If at an outdoor venue with cliffs, bodies of water, or other rugged terrain:
    • Ensure that parents have been made fully aware of the environment and associated risks, and sign an acknowledgement of risk indicating their permission.
    • Ensure that staff are trained to prevent and address injury, and in proper supervision to monitor and protect youth.
    • Orient and train youth prior to setting out into the environment. 
    • Give clear guidelines for conduct and instruct on how to safely navigate the setting.
    • Clearly articulate any prohibited behaviors that may cause harm to themselves or others.