[hackerspaces] Insurance, liability and kids

Will Bradley bradley.will at gmail.com
Sat Sep 14 11:50:13 CEST 2013

Carolyn, our space (HeatSync Labs in Arizona) allows kids but "treats them
like adults" -- in other words we don't babysit anyone at any age, if you
need supervision then your parent must (really, actively) supervise you.
Our liability waiver has a section for minors which we make the minor sign
(so they know to be responsible) and the parent sign (so it's legal.) We
also heavily encourage parents to attend WITH their kids or at least tour
the place and understand what kinds of dangers are present, so they're
adequately informed. One parent actually sent her kid to us to do something
dangerous because she trusted us better than she trusted herself (jee,
thanks! But it turned out alright.)

Our space is somewhat divided, the front is tables and the back is shop; at
the entrance to the back we have a sign that says minors must be
accompanied by an adult.

We've got liability and accident insurance and have told our insurer that
we do host classes with minors and what kinds of classes we teach. They
didn't seem to think it was a big deal; I'm sure we're in a similar
category as summer camps or scouts. The people who freak out most about
this tend to be "backseat driver" types who have plenty of time to be
worried and write emails but not much time to actually show up, discuss
things, research things, or improve things. Our insurer and lawyer
certainly don't freak out about these things.

If our landlord was making a fuss, I'd coordinate something with the board
/ select group of members to meet with them and discuss any concerns. It's
important to maintain a good relationship with your business partners so
they're on your side, if they're freaking out it may be because they
weren't told about something they consider important. Or maybe they just
hate kids. I feel you can defuse the situation by explaining the various
precautions taken; kids aren't necessarily a huge risk especially if the
parents are there, forms are signed, and insurance is purchased. You can
get a million dollars of "accidentally blew up the building" insurance for
cheap, easy way to calm down a landlord. Accident/injury insurance isn't
too expensive either, just bite the bullet and call.

If you're having trouble finding an insurer, contact me directly and I'll
refer you to HeatSync's insurers.

On Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 1:26 AM, rachel lyra hospodar
<rachelyra at gmail.com>wrote:

> hi carolyn,
> 1. Have you heard of mothership hacker moms?  it's a hackerspace in the
> east bay for moms (and other people), with childcare.  I don't know how
> much is about moms hacking and how much is about kids hacking, but they
> probably have some good info for you.
> 2. Insurance, etc is the details. Don't sweat the small stuff, but do get
> insurance. You'll be able to, it will just take, uh, doing so. Most
> commercial landlords wouldn't be so lax about it, and then scream in your
> face when they remember that they forgot.
> 3. sudo room's landlord is unusually insane.
> 4. doing a project on a large enough scale to require renting space will
> usually bring you into contact with some insane people.
> 5. rubin is a dick (hi rubin!), but if you are hoping to do any organizing
> of a hackerspace i hope you do it from your own email address, or one that
> is designed to be shared (eg outreach at hayhackers.com). It is less
> confusing and will help keep narrow minded hackers from underestimating you.
> 6. people who underestimate you are wrong.
> R.
> On 9/4/2013 3:57 PM, john lunger wrote:
>> We were visitors of this particular hackerspace last night so I don;t
>> know the exact details of things in term of whose name is on the
>> nonprofit incorporating forms or even if it is nonprofit incorporated at
>> all.
>> I am actually thinking of starting a hackerspace myself and wanted it to
>> be kid friendly.
>> When I say kid friendly I mean separate rooms for the adult stuff (all
>> the dangerous tools/chemicals/ewaste) and the kids stuff (tables,
>> chairs, soldering irons, sparkfun electronic kits, popsicle sticks, glue
>> gun, glitter, Legos, Snap Circuits, Squishy Circuits etc (Parents would
>> be required to stay with the children).
>> Would insurance be more feasible with this kind of set up instead? Could
>> we get separate insurance policies for each space. One for the adult
>> section/one for the kids section? I would love for them to have a common
>> area which would only have couches, tables, chairs, musical instruments
>> but not sure after last night how that would work out because they you
>> would have to worry about fingerprinting/ of random adults interacting
>> with minors.
>> Our group is moving much more slowly and methodically than other
>> hackerspaces because of the involvement of children. We are going to try
>> and dot our i's and cross our t's and deal with all the steps needed for
>> everything to be covered if that is possible.
>> So that is why I am asking all these questions. But given what happened
>> last night I having 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th thoughts about starting one at
>> all.
>> You can check our sad website at www.hayhackers.org
>> Carolyn
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