2020 has been a strange year, to say the least. I can't help but be impressed by the resilience of the New Zealand adventure activity sector. As soon as lockdown first hit, we were the pinch point between operators and WorkSafe and JAS-ANZ, trying to ensure operators could maintain certification, during lockdown and then in planning for this busy recertification period.
As difficult and challenging as it was, it was heartening to hear from so many of you who had managed to find innovative ways to keep your businesses going through such tough times, from modifying activities to better suit the Kiwi market, to starting landscaping side-hustles to bolster income.
We've had some good learnings from audits, too:
Gregory Smith, a respected health and safety author writes: "For most organisations, the biggest source of legal liability is the level of non-compliance with their own documented procedures". We've definitely noticed that, as a Safety Management System evolves, it can easily lead to different sections specifying different requirements, leaving your staff unable to adhere to one or the other. It's important that a SMS is clear and succinct, so that staff are clear on their requirements. Duplication can lead to deviation.
Keep up-to-date with practicing emergency procedures. Most emergency test reports we've seen have recorded good learning opportunities which have led to improving emergency plans. If you don't test your plans properly, you could miss out on these learning opportunities. Talk to other operators, Coastguard, LandSAR, etc about their procedures. A real emergency is NOT the time to practice.
Sensible goals and objectives a a good idea. Think about Sensible, Measurable, Appropriate, Timebound (SMART) objectives that help you achieve your safety goals. Some good objectives include: Streamlining the SMS by removing redundant forms and duplication; Renewing 1st aid quals with an outdoor-specific course that is more appropriate for the location of activities; Engaging with other operators in the sector as external technical advisors (TA) to update currency in the wider industry.
Understand the requirements of the Safety Audit Standard for Adventure Activities. Stay up-to-date with the legislation, guidelines and bylaws relevant to your region and activities. If you're adhering to this document, you're well on the way to following good industry practice.
Continual improvement is real. The argument that "we've been doing it like this for 15 years and nothing has changed" is unsound. With this thinking internal combustion engines would never have replaced steam-power, which would never have replaced the original horse-power. We've never been as well-informed as we are today - and tomorrow we'll have more information to use to make our staff and participants safer than before. Opportunities to improve our activities and safety should be continuously sought.
Season's greetings and best wishes for 2021 to all.
Congratulations need to go out to all the rafting operators and everyone who worked so tirelessly to get the rafting across the line on 1 October.
Operators from other activities will remember their first round of certification audits and the doubts and stress that came with this new set of regulations. This was compounded for the rafting operators with all the unknowns presented by COVID rearing it's head in the middle of it all.
At AdventureMark we take pride in knowing that our auditors are also active in the outdoor industry and having such experienced, competent rafting auditors certainly helped give our rafting operators comfort that the people auditing them knew what they were talking about.
For the most part, the audits have identified well-qualified guides with plenty of competence. This really highlights the value of having a high-quality national qualification. Areas that needed work were more around updating systems and procedures. Several observations were made that the SMSs were often bulky and contained outdated information or duplication that could use a good "haircut".
This could be a good objective to include in your SMS to help make compliance with your own documented procedures more efficient.
The Adventure Activities Regulations will still be pretty new to some of you so please don't hesitate to contact Mike at AdventureMark if you ever have any questions at all.
Again, well done to everyone who put in the hard yards to get registered by the 1st October. Hopefully we'll have a bumper season getting Kiwis done our rivers and look forward to welcoming back international guests in the not-too-distant future.
For some operators, you'll be breathing a sigh of relief as your new certificate arrives in the post. Some operators are in the middle of recertification and others among you are just getting started.
The one common theme that we're hearing is that the cost of compliance is very high and a threat to some businesses.
We touched on this point in the last post.
The Adventure Activities Regulations require any business providing adventure activities to undergo a recertification audit every three years to be registered as an Adventure Activity Operator on the WorkSafe Register.
For AdventureMark to be accredited to provide these audits, we need to be audited by JAS-ANZ. It is the cost of accreditation that determines the cost of audits. Most of your auditors work in the adventure industry as well, and have to be audited themselves. We full-well understand the impact these expenses have to business, especially at this time.
The single-most effective way to keep costs as low as possible is to plan early and get your audit done as efficiently as possible. The most expensive audits are the ones where there is a scramble at the end to get everything completed just before certification expires.
Once you've had an auditor appointed you can discuss a suitable date that works for everyone. This will always be easier if there is more time for you to plan.
These really are extraordinary times. We wrote these words back in March and they ring as true now as back then.
When the first Lockdown hit AdventureMark started discussing and planning with industry bodies like WorkSafe, JAS-ANZ and TIA, among others, to try to find a way through these unprecedented circumstances.
We've been talking to many different organisations to try to find some form of compliance cost relief for operators. The truth is, for AdventureMark the cost of being accredited to provide audits dictates the cost of audits to operators. TIA understood this and used this information to petition government to provide financial relief to operators.
Below is the media release from TIA:
TIA offers helping hand to adventure tourism operators
TIA is offering adventure tourism operators a helping hand so they can complete safety audits.
Many operators covered by the Adventure Activities Regulations are due to undergo their full three-yearly safety audit in the next few months. Without an audit, which costs an average $4-5000, they are not permitted to operate.
TIA is concerned that some operators will struggle to cover their audit costs. TIA members facing hardship will be offered interest-free loans of up to 50% of the audit fee.
“This is an unprecedented step for TIA. We have explored the possibility of government funding but have been told by Ministers that none is available, so we are using our own balance sheet to support our members,” TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.
Read our media release or email [email protected] for details.
These really are extraordinary times.
Events like the COVID-19 pandemic happen so seldom that we are very rarely prepared for them. The Adventure Activities Regulations certainly don't take this sort of event into account. When we read the Regulations or any audit standards, it seems that we need to continue audit activities (recertification, surveillance, etc) as per schedule. There's scope to use ICT- Information & Communication Technology- to avoid having to visit operators onsite. What isn't really considered is the fact that operators can't even conduct activities - so we can't audit them.
Taking this information into account, AdventureMark is working together with WorkSafe and JAS-ANZ to find a solution maintain certification until such time as operators can begin activities again.
Our thinking follows four points:
• Activities aren’t taking place.
• People cannot access their offices/places of work.
• Businesses aren’t receiving any income, making paying compliance costs difficult.
• Businesses and staff are under a lot of stress, adding audits for activities they cannot provide could exacerbate this.
We hope to hear back from WorkSafe soon to hear if we can maintain certification without the need for suspension or other measures.
We also understand that there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment. This is an uncertain time and we're working hard to keep communication lines open to reach a resolution soon. We will update our operators when there is news.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at all.
The Owl and the Peacock by Sally Duxfield from Makahika OPC
Loving being at home, treasure the silence and the lack of interaction or are you going completely stir crazy and desire cuddles, laughter and people?
Needing something different at this time will depend on your level of extroversion or introversion.
As leaders, we need to be agile in our support processes and know when to engage with our team and when to leave them in their 'my-sky happy place'.
The HAWK - driven, solo, competitive, low empathy,
doesn't need your approval, drives projects and teams,
essential in times where high energy and focus are
required - introvert.
The PEACOCK - vivacious, happy, funny (particularly in
their own minds), love entertaining, drawing with
brightly coloured pens (on themselves), maintain high
energy for teams however can be a little distracting -
The DOVE - quiet, kind, peace maker, loves being
around people but not necessarily speaking to them.
Hates conflict and happy to be led - quiet extrovert
who recharges around others
The OWL - process driven, low low low empathy,
technical, routine driven, fantastic at planning and
project management - strong introvert.
W H A T D O Y O U N E E D ?
The HAWK - Thank goodness - I don't have to talk to anyone and those annoying peacocks cannot disturb me - I don't need anyone else at this time, but need you to do what you've been told - quickly.
The PEACOCK - aaaahhh noooo, zoom me, message me, hello hello are you there, someone talk to me, desperately need you to speak to me, regularly, please make a time for us to message and drink coffee or gin together on a screen (quite large screen so you can see me properly)
The DOVE - I hate isolation, I don't know what to do as there are no Hawks to tell me; please don't forget about me. I don't have the courage to zoom you, but would love it if you remembered me and invited me for a coffee zoom call, please, thank you. and sorry for being a nuisance, sorry.
The OWL - the world is in order, we should all work in isolation. I'm about to go down into a rabbit hole and contemplate the end of the world. Constantly considering all things way way outside of my circle of influence and I probably need to be dragged into virtual social interaction so that I don't look up recipes for foxgloves just in case the end of the world is nigh.
SO it's time to nurture - explore the needs of your
team and consider the agility of your response to
your teams mental well-being.
We are very proud to have one of the most experienced adventure auditing teams around the globe. When our Auditors and TE's are not running audits they are out skiing, climbing, mountaineering kayaking, rafting, biking and are involved in the industry we care so much about. With rafting switching over to the Adventure Activities Regulations, AdventureMark has selected some of the most experienced and qualified rafters in New Zealand to join the auditing team. Having auditors who are also technical experts helps audits run smoothly and you can be assured that your auditor knows what they're talking about. Head over to Our Team to read more about the AdventureMark auditors.
Hopefully by now if you are involved in rafting you will have an idea of the timelines involved in the transition of rafting from Maritime NZ to WorkSafe.
In September last year, Maritime NZ shared this information:
New regime for regulation of commercial river rafting and what this means for you
• From 1 October 2020, where commercial river rafting is an “adventure activity” it will be subject to the Health and Safety (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 and regulated by WorkSafe.
• This change will streamline the regulatory oversight of rafting as an adventure activity.
• As a result, there will be more flexibility for operators to develop operating procedures that best suit the needs of their business, and of their customers, while still meeting safety requirements.
• In addition, the standards of ‘good practice’ will be maintained in the new guidelines developed.
• From 1 November 2019 you will need to prepare for registration with WorkSafe.
• Determine whether the Adventure Activities regulations apply to you.
• Get your Adventure Activities Audit done in time to enable you to register with WorkSafe on 1 October 2020.
• You will be able to submit applications to WorkSafe for registration as an adventure activity operator from 1 April 2020.
• Any certificate of compliance valid and current on 1 November 2019 will continue to be so until 1 October 2020, unless suspended or revoked by the Maritime NZ Director.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss how best to prepare for an audit under the Adventure Activities Regulations, please feel free to get in touch with Mike on 021 2929090 or [email protected]
Recertification is approaching fast for most operators in 2020. The regulations require that all operators go through a full audit at recertification. This occurs every 3 years. Here are a few tips to help streamline the process, keep costs down and make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible:-
This Article was published by Support Adventure in 2016. Many of the issues are still being observed in the field on audit.
What the Auditor Saw
Another year, another round of adventure activity safety audits. Or, at least, surveillance audits, to use that creepy auditing term. What did I see? Although operators have improved their safety planning considerably, I often saw review weaknesses – staff monitoring, incident trends, and safety management plan reviews – and some grumpiness too.
There’s some grumpiness around time and cost, and that’s understandable. However, I did find the grumpiest operators viewing their audit as a compliance exercise rather than a value-added exercise – ‘clipping the ticket’, not an external review of their practices. They were especially grumpy when they had voluntarily worked hard to gain qualifications and received little recognition for their efforts from the audit process. They wanted the focus on leader skills, not on system auditing. They’re right in believing that the leader competence signaled by their qualifications is a key to safety, and I encourage leaders to gain qualifications. It’s a clearer path to determining competence than an internal process, which was often hazy. However, it’s not the whole package. The big picture requires more than competent leaders as the safety audit standard spells out. It requires operators to plan for matters such as hazard ID and management (including drugs and alcohol), staff induction and ongoing training, internal communication, risk disclosure, leadership support, legislation compliance, emergencies, and continual improvement. Operators who had attended workshops tended to understand this better.
I often saw good induction and training procedures but poor monitoring records. New staff were deemed competent and then assumed to be working to the plan. The best plan on the planet is no use if staff don’t work to it, and often managers just assumed they did. Accident investigations sometimes found otherwise, but that’s a little late. Monitoring isn’t an easy matter for operators whose staff work alone. Sometimes client feedback was cited as evidence, but if clients know enough about safety to usefully comment, maybe they wouldn’t be clients. The cost of observing a leader in the field is real, especially for small businesses, but what is more important than assurance that your plan is live, well, and driving safety? Sometimes peer review works for operators, and that’s acceptable. Assuming it’s formalised and recorded that is, maybe a standard one-pager that focuses on whether each staff member is working to the standard operating procedures.
The safety audit standard requires operators to review a group of incidents, usually a season or a year’s worth. The idea is that a trend might emerge that wasn’t apparent when incidents were reviewed individually. This was generally well understood but not always well documented. Individually, incidents were usually well recorded and well analysed, although it was often far from clear whether that work resulted in change to the operating procedures. Better records of that process – record, analyse, change – is the next step. Analysing a block of incidents was not so well done. Sometimes I saw collated incidents only – no apparent analysis, no apparent change to procedures. The hard work had been done but the key learnings were not taken, or at least it wasn’t clear that they had. Not that the hard work always included recording and analysing near misses as well as accidents. Recording these free lessons is slowly becoming part of the sector’s culture, but nowhere as frequently as studies indicate they should be. If the operator’s safety culture doesn’t encourage recording near misses, the trend analysis will be short of data. The alternative is to wait for the accident….
Safety management plan reviews
Good plans need regular reviews, ideally involving staff, and certainly taking into account incidents and complaints, and relating performance to objectives. I saw a sector getting better at reviewing, but not always getting better at recording the process and updating plans, including their document control section. It is a requirement of the safety audit standard but the quality of safety management plan reviews remains variable. Conclusion Operators’ safety planning has improved. Numerous workshops, guidance from WorkSafe, and the SupportAdventure website have all played a part, not to mention the sanctions inherent in the regulations. The sector has come a long way in a short time but monitoring and continual improvement is a work in progress for some operators. They are key parts of the big challenge – building a positive safety culture.
Stu Allan coordinates the AdventureMark audit programme. He was a Tourism Industry Aotearoa Project Leader, an NZOIA Board member, and has worked as the Principal Advisor, Adventure Activities, to WorkSafe NZ.
Integra/AdventureMark Blue Certification is JAS-ANZ accredited. AdventureMark Blue certification is approved by WorkSafe NZ under the WorkSafe NZ Adventure Activities Certification Scheme.
New Zealand Adventure Tourism Safety Certification
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