Time to confront the bear in outdoor program safety; aligning what we now know with what we’re currently doing. One practitioner’s call to action.


“Curriculum development, and our collective approach to facilitating learning in the outdoors has evolved significantly in the past few decades. However, in my opinion, the same cannot be said about how we manage risk. If we are honest, we’ll see that we are still teaching, promoting and defending positions relating to predicting and managing risk that were developed and advocated several decades ago. We still largely and wholeheartedly, hold onto the perspective that a well-trained individual, the instructor, is the determining factor in the safety outcomes of a program or activity.

For us, as outdoor education managers and leaders, our questions and intentions following an incident should not be to find out, why on earth our staff did what they did, but rather attempt to understand, why did it make sense for them at that time, to do what they did”.

Are we now willing, as a profession, to consider entering into alternative dialogues in relation to how we choose to understand accidents, and identify sources of risk in our work”?

The attached article provides an alternative and insightful perspective to identifying and managing sources of risk in a way that aligns with what the wider field of safety science now understands about how and why accidents happen. Using learnings from safety-critical domains such as aviation, healthcare and transportation, the author offers practical and implementable strategies for those involved in  the design, planning and implementation of outdoor education and recreation experiences.

Download article here and feel free to share amongst colleagues and friends.


Clare has over twenty years of field and management experience in facilitated outdoor experiences, and is currently completing her PhD in Human Factors (risk assessment) at the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems, The University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia (www.hf-sts.com). She is the Head of Innovation at The Outdoor Education Group.(www.oeg.org.au)


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Time to confront the bear in outdoor program safety; aligning what we now know with what we’re currently doing. One practitioner’s call to action.

  1. Pingback: A call to action around risk and injury prevention in outdoor education and recreation – Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems

  2. Pingback: A Practitioner’s Call to Action | The UPLOADS Project

  3. asee82 says:

    Reblogged this on Confessions of an Accidental Climber, Instructor and commented:
    A very good discussion on how we approach an accident when it happens. Is it always “human error” or the instructor to be blamed or is it just a convenient excuse? Should we relook at how we approach accidents or risk management? What were you thinking at that point in time?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s