Rules support lawsuits. Education supports the program.

The longer I work in this industry, the more I believe a couple of things.

1.     We can’t keep people safe or accident free. Any program anyone advocating this position is ignoring the realities of life.

        You can have the safest ropes’ course or zip line in the world, and someone can fall down on the stairs leading to the first element. You can bubble wrap a kid and stick him in a padded room, and he can get hurt. Stick two kids in the room and both will get hurt.

        This does not mean you should not attempt to run a safe program within industry standards. What it means is the industry standards and the “people” promoting them should accept the realities of life.

        If you are working with someone promising to make your program safe, they are lying to you. Remember you have a first-aid kit at home and most people die in the bathroom. People are going to get hurt in your program at some point if you are running long enough.

2.     Since people get hurt no matter what we do, we might as well be prepared for it. Prepared means you and them. Prepared means knowing the most likely reasons why and how people get hurt at your program. Prepared means have the appropriate first-aid kit and training. However, your preparation is not enough.

        Your guests need to be prepared also.

3.     The best way to keep people from getting hurt is to educate them. Padding, protecting and eliminating only goes so far. People fall getting into and out of their cars in your parking lot. You can pad our parking lot, or you can know it is going to happen and be prepared.

        People, hopefully, know their cars and parking lots. However, you program is a big blank in their knowledge inventory. If they get hurt getting out of their car, they can get hurt getting into your boat, into your harness, into any part of your program. People get hurt before the program begins and yet 99% of the work to keep people safe, we all (including me) do is just about the program.

        (At the same time writing an article about the dangers of sidewalks or parking lot risks is just not fun.)

4.     Rules (laws), regulations and industry standards don’t work. The number-one reason they don’t work is your customers don’t know or understand them. On top of that they don’t know or understand what the rules are supposed to do or why. The more rules you make for your program the more ways you set yourself up for a lawsuit. The more an industry works to make standards/regulations the more ways your participant can break one with no idea what why or how.

        Your risk management manual, emergency plan or other such as documents are probably more helpful to the plaintiff in a lawsuit than to your defense.

Rules support lawsuits. Education supports the program.

Concentrate on educating your customers then. This does not mean to ignore changes in the industry that might make the program safer. This means that you can do more to keep someone’s safe if they understand how they are going to get hurt.

The legal principle of assumption of the risk was based on this. If you knew what you were getting into and got hurt you could not sue. This still holds true in most states for sports or recreational activities.

More importantly you are doing your customers a better service of educating them rather than threatening them. (Most releases contain several threats if you read them.)

Even better and ignoring the legal issues, participants who understand what they are getting into will have a better time. Their chances of getting hurt will be reduced and consequently, the entire trip will be better with no injuries. Your guests can reach for their goals of entertainment, enjoyment or growth and still present a great program to them.

·         Education is better than a threat. It worked for you.

·         Education is better than a release; one lasts forever, and the other one is hopefully never used.

·         Education shows you care, not that you don’t care.

Make your program safe but make your guests or participants knowledgeable. Help them understand their safety, their risk and their responsibility to keep themselves safe.

You and your program will be better off, and your guests will have been more fun.

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Are we using safety as an excuse not to spend time with people? Is here, “wear your helmet” taking the place of let me show you how to ride a bike?

Is our focus on safety an excuse allowing us to ignore safety? Safety is not in a helmet, padding or rules. Safety is knowing what to do, how to do something and what not to do. Education is safety.

jeremy swanson aspen 66

jeremy swanson aspen 66

It takes time to teach a kid how to ride a bike. It takes a long time to learn how to rock climb and place

protection. It takes a lifetime; sometimes short, to be a successful mountaineer.

A lot of climbers are taking shortcuts, it is easier to buy experience rather than gain it. However that is at least experience, time, someone to critique, lend support and at the right moment scream “don’t do that!”

You can’t buy a helmet and a safe bicycle and expect a child to not be injured.

You can’t rent a helmet and skis and expect your child to be safe on the slopes.

You can’t point to the summit and say, the top is up there.

Successful recreation takes time, not from the participants but from the parents, friends, mentors, teachers and instructors. It takes one on one learning what you need to teach to your student.

As educators and guides in the outdoor recreation arena, we need to point out the difference between the safety provided by gear and the safety of experience.

As outdoor recreation manufacturer’s we need to point out that the gear we are selling will help after all else has failed. Protection is not a replacement for skills, education and experience.

As parents, friends and people on the planet, we need to explain that outdoor recreation safety can’t be based on a credit card but is based on time. Get out there with a friend, relative or young ones and spend the time not just money.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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When we try and prevent accidents are creating them?

Some traffic studies show eliminating signs, curbs, and road lines actually substantially decreases accidents

This Wired article discusses ways to decrease traffic accidents as well as pedestrian and bike interaction. The basis of the article is when we tell people how to

Cycling on Dutch alleys.

drive, we allow them to drive to that limit. When we force drivers to pay attention, they slow down and pay attention.

Examples in the article include a roundabout with 20,000 vehicles plus pedestrians and cyclists going through the intersection each day with no signs. There is also no honking no screeching brakes and no yelling. By eliminating signs, crosswalks and lanes the drivers are forced to pay attention and watch for each other.

The drivers slow to gauge the intentions of crossing bicyclists and walkers. Negotiations over right-of-way are made through fleeting eye contact. Remarkably, traffic moves smoothly around the circle with hardly a brake screeching, horn honking, or obscene gesture.

A town in Denmark eliminated the signs and signals at an intersection and dropped fatalities at the intersection from three to zero. In England, center lanes were removed from roadways and accidents decreased by 35%.

When you tell drivers how to drive, they then ignore pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. If you force them to pay attention because no one is telling them what to do (or not to pay attention), there are fewer accidents.

Are we putting people at risk by trying to keep them safe?

By telling someone what to do, how to do it, and what speed to do it at, are we taking away from them the “desire” to watch out for others. If you don’t have to watch for people, because we tell you, you don’t have to, do you quit watching?

These studies tend to indicate that.

A study that is frequently cited when discussing Risk Homeostasis is accident rates before and after putting antilock brakes on cabs. Once the brakes were installed the cabbies drove faster and shortened their stopping distance.

If we don’t have to think about safety do we ignore it?

Is the corollary true? Are we creating expectations of safety where none exist? Do crossing walks and curbs create a feeling of safety in pedestrians? Do bike lanes make cyclists feel safe? Do bike lanes make drivers believe that cyclists are safer? A study in England showed that cyclists in bike lanes were crowded more by cars. Another study showed that when cyclists wore helmets, cars and trucks gave the cyclists less room when passing.

Does this discussion extend to all parts of life?

English: Bicycle sharrows (shared-lane marking...

Danger signs, fencing, no trespassing signs are needed to protect us from our own stupidity?

I always love signs that are obviously pointing out dangers to young children…..who can’t read.

Is litigation to make the world safer doing just the opposite?

For other studies on the issue of getting stupider see: Does being safe make us stupid? Studies say yes.

To read the article see: Roads Gone Wild

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CSCUSA PR reminds people to be safe

Colorado Ski Country USA Reminds Skiers & Snowboarders to be Safe on the Slopes

Resorts Emphasize Safe Skiing, Prepare for Busy Holiday

 

Aspen Highlands, Michael Neumann

DENVER, Colo. – February 17, 2012– Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) and its 22 member resorts remind skiers and snowboarders to practice safe skiing and riding, know and follow Your Responsibility Code, be aware of surroundings and obey terrain closures.

“Guest safety is always the number one priority of our members,” explained Melanie Mills, CSCUSA president and CEO. “President’s Day weekend is a popular time to go skiing, and our resorts are doing absolutely everything they can to make sure guests are safe and have an enjoyable time on the slopes during this busy weekend.”

Individual skier and snowboarder responsibility is the foundation for safe skiing. Loveland Ski Area assistant patrol director and CSCUSA Ski Patroller of the Year, Joey Riefenberg, stresses the importance of being aware of your surroundings, “Skiers and snowboarders need to be proactive about safety, pay attention to who is skiing around you and always look downhill. Go slow and give yourself time to stop. Know that little kids are out and about and need a wide berth, watch where the flows are.”

CSCUSA member resorts across the state are taking extra measures to provide safe skiing environments, including constantly reassessing conditions. “Resorts are working super hard to make sure it’s safe. Everyone is super conscientious of that, and the snowpack,” said Riefenberg. “It’s a funny snowpack this year, really odd, and resorts are on alert, busy knocking all the air out of the snowpack and making sure everything is safe.”

Skiers and snowboarders are also reminded to obey all signage and be especially alert to obeying terrain closures. As snow continues to fall in Ski Country, resorts will open more terrain as conditions safely allow. “We’d love to open everything but things are closed for a reason, because it’s unsafe for you and unsafe for those who have to rescue you,” Riefenberg explained. “Nothing is being saved, we want everyone to have fun, but be safe doing it.”
Ultimately, it is the responsible behavior of skiers and riders that make the slopes safe. Knowing the nationally recognized Your Responsibility Code is crucial to skier and rider responsibility. Referred to simply as The Code, it is comprised of seven principles that collectively outline on-mountain skier etiquette and safe skiing practices.

Responsibilities within The Code include:

Skier carving a turn off piste

Image via Wikipedia

  • Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  • People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  • You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  • Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  • Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

CSCUSA also reminds skiers, snowboarders and other snowsports enthusiasts heading into the backcountry to check with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) on the magnitude and nature of avalanche hazard they may encounter, do not venture out alone, and have proper equipment and education for the conditions. “Backcountry avalanche danger right now is considerable,” states Ethan Greene, director of CAIC. “With the holiday weekend there’s going to be powder snow and nice weather, but don’t be fooled that the hazard is anything less than very serious.”

More information on backcountry conditions can be found at the CAIC website, www.avalanche.state.co.us or by calling 303-499-9650.

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