Adventure, by definition, carries a level of risk in terms of ‘uncertainty of outcome,’ and it is impossible and undesirable, to remove all risk from an adventurous activity. If you are considering participating in an outdoor adventurous activity, or if you are arranging an activity for young people, you will no doubt want to understand the level of risk inherent in the activity. You will also want to satisfy yourself that the likelihood of serious injury, or worse, is reduced to an acceptable level.

Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is an evaluation of the potential hazards that may be encountered in an activity. Consideration will be given to the severity of the danger, should that hazard be encountered, and also the likelihood of it occurring. The age, ability and likely behaviour of the participants will also be taken into account For example; being struck by lightening is a severe hazard but in most situations is very unlikely. However, if a weak swimmer were to capsize their kayak when out of their depth, the severity of that hazard would be high and for a novice the likelihood of that happening would also be high.

Having assessed the risks, control measures are put in place to reduce the risks to an acceptable level and these accompany the risk assessment. For example, amongst other measures, all kayakers will wear buoyancy aids and be accompanied by suitably qualified instructors who can easily deal with a capsize and put the client back in their boat.

Risk assessments are done at two levels: Initially there will be a written document for each activity which identifies the main hazards and the corresponding control measures. Secondly, for the duration of the activity, the instructor will do a continuous ‘dynamic’ risk assessment taking into account changing environmental conditions and the individual needs and abilities of the clients.

As part of good practice I am obliged to keep a record of any accidents and near misses and in some instances to report them to the Health and Safely Executive. I have risk assessments and operating procedures for all the activities that I offer. Copies are available on request.

Safeguarding of Children

I am aware of and comply with the Essex Safeguarding Children's Board SET procedures. I attend Safeguarding training every 3 years, the most recent being January 2011.

Mythbusting - The Health & Safety Executive statement
Common misconceptions about Health and Safety and school trips. - 4 key messages