[box_green]Risk management is defined as “the process of reducing potential loss to an acceptable level”.
It is an extremely relevant time to be finding out a bit more about managing the risks present in any outdoor activity.[/box_green]
This weekend I attended the Risk Management Course organised by the Mountain Safety Council. A 2 day course based at the Motu Moana Green Bay Scout Hall. Having already attended the Outdoor First Aid course there, and met Alex, the tutor at the Advanced Bushcraft and River Safety courses, I knew it was going to be an informative weekend.
Essentially, the course focuses on managing the amount of risk involved in outdoor activities, not only in a documented ‘health & safety’ focus, but also in finding the right balance of challenge and safety when leading group in the outdoors.
Part of my job at Allproof Industries is looking after the Health & Safety aspect of the company, that, combined with a mother who is a Department of Labour Inspector, means I entered into the course with a little bit of prior understanding of the need to quantify and identify the risks involved in activities - be that in a warehouse or a bush-walk - it is necessary to ask ‘what if’ – and plan accordingly.
In addition though, and particularly in regards to activities that in some ways require at least a small amount of risk to be rewarding, an adventure, a challenge; there is a necessity to be able to manage the amount of risk integrated into an activity and to be able to modulate that risk, with the goal of creating a ‘peak experience’ for the individual – that level of challenge where the participant is in the ‘zone’. This is done by reducing the Absolute Risk (worst case scenario), providing an acceptable level of Residual Risk (the amount of realistic risk left over), and then playing with the notion of Perceived Risk.
The course was a balance of theoretical classroom style teaching and hands on practical exercises and activities.
It becomes apparent quickly, that there often isn’t a necessarily right or wrong answer – as levels of risk, their causes, and results are fluid – changing potentially from moment to moment as the situation develops. Rather, the majority of the material is there to make you think, and fuel discussion, as each participant is encouraged to provide relevant examples from their own experience.
In relation to experience - it was also nice to have quite a diverse range or participants attending. From people working with youth, to the blind, to people running tramping clubs or planning solo tramps, the variety or perspectives and insights provided a well rounded approach to what we were learning.
The first day was primarily spent in the classroom, with the second a chance to put our learning into practice, by creating an activity and developing the risk management plan around it.
Apart from the activities being quite a lot of fun (ever put your tent up blindfolded?) – it also, for me at least, brought home another very important lesson that mother taught me long ago – the necessity to also be educating and taking care of the caregivers. By that I mean; It is very interesting and insightful for the group leaders to also become involved in the very activities that their students go through under their tuition. This might seem obvious – but sometimes that is exactly why it can be overlooked.
I enjoyed the course. Alex paced it excellently, keeping levels of interest up while covering a pile of information and providing even more resources to keep on learning from.
A couple of things that also came up that I would suggest anyone evolved in outdoors activies check out -
- The National Incident Database – An online record of incidents experienced by groups active in the outdoors – unless we have this information, it is impossible to identify trends and try to implement systems and most importantly provide training to address them. Please check it out. The more people involved, the more useful it becomes.
- There are piles of little groups around the country working with youth, the disabled or simply those who want to better themselves through exploring this wonderful country we live in. Go get involved. There is massive reward to be had in working and helping others.
Course: Risk Management
Location: Motu Moana
Time: 2 Days[/box_red]
Some more useful links -