Many industries use checklists but they are often viewed as a tool for the inexperienced. This is not so. Look at pilots, doctors and construction workers. It is a necessity for safe operations. I can almost guarantee you feel more comfortable knowing that your pilot is following a checklist when you next jump on a plane.
In high hazard industries where expertise is respected it can be difficult to implement something as simple as a checklist. There is a kind of expert audacity that the use of a checklist may be below them. When the World Health Organisation implemented checklists for surgeons they faced huge criticism and kickback. However the mortality rate has dropped significantly globally. Large construction projects simply would not get off the ground without checklists and project management tools.
Pilots use them all the time even for mundane tasks. They are used especially in emergency situations. It allows the pilots to focus on problem solving.
They can be very very useful in outdoor adventure operations.
Here are a few situations checklists may be of use.
The sign of a good checklist is one that is simple to use, efficient, and to the point. It acts as a memory aid. It should not slow down your procedures. If you have been involved in an emergency situation in an outdoor setting, you would likely agree that panic almost always sets in. Even with the most experienced instructors. A checklist keeps you on track.
I used to encourage all of my guides to have a small laminate of the safety brief in their buoyancy aid pockets. The most experienced guides can forget things. We are human and humans make mistakes. A simple checklist can help you keep on track.
As an adventure business owner it is another tool to ensure that your safety systems are being followed by your team.
Would you want a pilot to fly or surgeon to operate on you without a checklist?
Jamie Simpson is General Manager of AdventureMark™ and also works globally for Kelvin TOP_SET running major incident investigations around the globe.
Our Lead Auditor and TE for Rock and Abseil Stu Allan has recently returned from a climbing trip in the Arapiles.
In April, we made our annual pilgrimage to Arapiles in western Victoria – New Zealand’s best crag they say. Actually, it may be the best crag in the world. Once it was home to the world’s hardest climb, but now the big boys and girls seek out steeper stuff. However, for moderate and low-grade traditional routes (placing your own protection), Arapiles’ multi-pitch climbing is as good as it gets. The quartzite rock is 400 million years old, which explains why the holds tend to stay put.
We camped and climbed with a bunch of other NZers and ventured over to the nearby Grampians too. There we got happy (and a little scared) on yet more stunning routes that just quietly wait for climbers to come by.
Last week AdventureMark auditors Jamie Simpson and Simon Reynolds attended the Annual Quad Bike Hui organised by Tourism Industry Association and hosted by AdventureMark certified operator Wellington Adventures. After a great afternoon ride through stunning country it finished up with a BBQ and opportunity to meet other operators in the sector.
Day 2. The operators reviewed the revised ASG's for Quad biking. A vital part of ASG's is that they are owned by operators and all parties in the industry have the opportunity to contribute. AdventureMark ran presentations and discussions on the auditing process and common issues that arise in the sector. We looked at how to deal with incidents along with the likely course of action from the regulator should you have a major incident. It was a great opportunity to meet a group of really active operators from the Quad biking and motorsports sector.
AdventureMark Technical Expert Grant Prattley has just been out exploring Holt Creek an undiscovered Canyon on the West coast. For a full article and photos check out this link
AdventureMark Auditor and Manager Jamie Simpson has just been refreshing his swift water rescue skills on the Rescue 3 White Water Rescue Technician course. It was a really wet weekend in trying conditions which was ideal for the course. The Kaituna river was in flood on day two and the course covered lots of really practical simple techniques for recreational and commercial river users. Its a great course and widely recognised around the globe as a benchmark in swift water rescue training. For more details on the NZ courses contact Rescue 3 Assessor Dan Manzano on this link
AdventureMark GM Jamie Simpson has just been attending some of the PADI regional Risk Management forums in New Zealand. Its been great getting insights into incidents in the diving sector in the Asia Pacific region. Jamie has been meeting with the Quality Management Team and discussing the Adventure Activities Audit process for dive operators.
When not running Adventure Audits in NZ our team can be found working in high hazard environments around the globe. Our Lead auditor and Diving/High Ropes TE, Robin De Geus is currently in the Middle East working in 40 degree heat on a rescue operation from a crane. For more info on our team click here
At AdventureMark™ we are constantly working with industry partners to discuss and improve safety across the adventure sector. This week our Diving lead auditors and technical experts Brian Franks and Robin De Guess attended a PADI diving seminar discussing risk and incidents in the diving industry. Great discussions were held around learning from incidents. If you would like to hear more about our safety audits for the diving sector here in New Zealand and overseas please do contact us.
An update from AdventureMark™ certified operator The Offlimits Trust
Offlimits is a charitable trust that raises funds to support the wellbeing of members of the New Zealand Defence Force and their families. It raises funds by conducting motorbike trail rides, motorbike guided rides, 4x4 guided tours, mountain biking and guided horse treks on the 65,000 ha that comprises the Waiouru Military Training Area. The trust would never be able to operate on Crown Land if it did not hold its Adventure Tourism Operator certification. This certification gives the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) a degree of peace of mind that events will be conducted professionally plus it helps NZDF meet its obligations as the land owner.
23-25 March saw 1500 keen motorbike riders participate in the annual TUSSOCKBUSTER event. This is the largest motorsport event in Australasia. The event is entirely run by volunteers and approximately 70 helpers come together once a year to fill the roles of track marshals, sign on crew, administrators, command post staff etc.
Offlimits is a certificated Adventure Tourism Operator. David Greenslade- one of the Offlimits trustees indicated that due to the diverse range of events, its SMS is huge. However, we handle this by having good SOPs, job descriptions, good induction processes, a marshal’s manual plus an annual training weekend for helpers.
TUSSOCKBUSTER has approximately 300km of marked trails covering approximately 20,000 ha so there are significant geographical and logistical challenges with safety. This issue is overcome by having approximately 50 RTs on hand that operate via the military radio repeaters located around the training area. Additionally, marshals are despatched with military precision to ride the tracks and assist riders. Quad bikes with specially designed recovery trailers are positioned at key locations to quickly move to recover broken bikes or injured riders. Offlimits has a dedicated helicopter on site to quickly recover the more seriously injured riders and return them to the large medical support team at the Offlimits event HQ.
Motorbike trail rides are traditionally a high risk activity. Offlimits has always had an enviable safety record achieved via good track marking, well defined rules that all participants must follow, plus a high level of written and verbal briefing and explanation of the hazards. However, injuries still occur and the TUSSOCKBUSTER18 medical team (in this instance ProMed) sent 13 riders to hospital for a variety of injuries. This might sound like a large number but when viewed in the context of 1,500 riders participating for three days and covering approximately 400,000 km off-road, then the hospitalisation injury rate is only 0.0086% which is extremely low when compared to other motorbike trail ride events.
Offlimits is happy to talk with other Adventure Tourism operators about how it operates and share its experiences around how it keeps participants as safe as it possibly can. For more information on The Offlimits Trust please check out this link https://offlimits.co.nz/about-offlimits/
“Good judgement comes from experience…and experience, well that comes from bad Judgement”
Learning to Fail Safely
I was recently camping in the bush with my 5-year-old son. We had a small camp fire and as I ran off to collect some more wood, my son put his finger into the edge of the fire and burned his finger. I had warned him several times on the dangers of the fire but the situation got me thinking.
What could I do better in the future and what have we both learned from this. There is no point dwelling on the past and getting angry about the situation. (At least that’s what I told my wife when home). It would be best to look to the future and look at what I could have done better.
What have we both learned
In many ways, the second point has provided my son with a painful but useful lesson. Not ideal but probably more effective than his dad telling him over and over again about the dangers of fire. Ideally, we want outdoor instructors to gain hands on experience but perhaps failing in a safe way would be a better way of achieving this. They do need to be allowed to make mistakes to improve.
Traditionally having incidents has a stigma attached to it. People in the outdoor industry and many other industries analyse too quickly and make judgement too fast. If you are operating in dangerous activities it is very likely you will have incidents. It is how we react to them that is important. Safety should not be judged by the absence of incidents but by the absence of controls you have in place.
Working as a safety auditor in both the adventure industry and auditor and investigator in wider industries around the globe. I am often bombarded by people who see little value in safety. They see it as unnecessary red tape and systems that tend to slow down productivity. If implemented correctly it should do exactly the opposite.
Essentially good safety systems are based around constantly learning and constantly improving. Something that should be entrenched into outdoor instructor training on day one.
If you work in a shoe factory you are trained how to make shoes first and typically safety is a side-line to productivity. Outdoor Instructors learn about safety from day one. It is integral to running activities in dangerous environments.
What the outdoor industry are often not so good at is recording minor incidents, near misses and documenting the learnings from these incidents. We have lots of them. These are just free lessons.
Humans make mistakes. That is not only your clients but your instructors and the owner operators too. We can build systems around clients and instructors to allow them to fail safely. Car manufacturers realised this early on. We won’t stop humans from crashing cars but we can improve systems around them. Air bags, ABS, speed limits, seatbelts etc.
Formula 1 racing used to have a huge number of fatalities in Jackie Stewarts era. Today we can witness a formula 1 car crash at 200kms/hr and the driver walks away. This is due to the companies sharing data and learning from incidents. Something we need to get better at in the outdoor world.
Unfortunately there is a conflict between those that wish to learn from incidents and share data. Those that like to assign blame too quickly, and the commercial and legal pressures of keeping incidents confidential. The media play a big part in this too. This will hopefully improve over time as people start to realise incidents do happen when humans are involved. Its how we react and deal with incidents that is important.
If I take 3000 people to the cinema over a year I would expect to have some minor incidents or close calls… just like if I take 3000 people over a mountain pass. It is just probability. No matter how small an incident we can always learn and always improve and always share our findings.
What we want is people to fail safely. You cannot control whether your client or instructor has a random heart attack or is stung by a bee. You can have systems in place to deal with these situations effectively and efficiently. Clear emergency procedures, staff trained in first aid, charged and tested communication devices. You can essentially set up to fail safely.
Incidents don’t just have to be safety based. If your booking system fails or a client turns up with the wrong gear then that is an incident. If your weather forecasting was off the mark for the day and you had to turn a kayak trip back… that is an incident. An Incident in simple terms is:- “something you did not want to happen”
You can review the situation as a team and improve your operation. The same process for an incident on the river or mountain can be used for a bookings failure in your company.
So, next time you have an incident don’t look at it as a negative. Learn from it, make improvements, share the findings and move on. It will make you a better more experienced instructor and operator. Sharing the information with other operators and competitors is key. A major incident in the adventure industry impacts everyone.
If you genuinely believe that you are at the top of your game, won’t have incidents and can’t improve anymore... then you are probably in the wrong industry. It could be time to hang up your climbing boots, sell your kayak and move on.
“If you want 100% accuracy get a machine. It is not possible from Humans” – Dr Todd Conklin
Jamie Simpson is General manager of AdventureMark™ . He also works for Kelvin TOP-SET around the globe investigating major disasters and teaching companies and individuals how to run effective simple incident investigations and learning teams.
QSI/AdventureMark™ Blue Certification is JAS-ANZ accredited.AdventureMark™ Blue certification is approved by WorkSafe under the WorkSafe adventure activities certification scheme.
New Zealand Adventure Tourism Safety Certification
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