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Canvas & Compass Travel


Canvas & Compass Travel

Safety Management & Risk Assessments

Canvas & Compass Travel

Safety Management
& Risk Assessments

As part of your travel planning and the Visits Abroad process you need to think about safety management and produce a comprehensive risk assessment, including planning for critical incidents.

Group leaders need to be diligent in preparing a travel management plan for their trip, but they do not need to demonstrate superhuman powers of pre-cognition. They simply have to deal with what is reasonably foreseeable and respond within a reasonable range of measures.

A risk assessment for an ‘off-site’ activity need not be complex. It is important to follow any Scout or Guide guidelines and it is recommended that two or more leaders participate in the planning process. This sharing of the planning process shares knowledge and skills, allows others to be involved and take ownership of the solutions. Additionally, there is every reason to involve the younger members of the group, as a good code of conduct will inevitably feature in any group travel management plan.


What is a risk assessment?

The concept is quite simple –

  • Somebody identifying a hazard
  • Recognising somebody is at risk from the hazard
  • Putting some judgement on the potential likelihood and severity of the hard that might befall them
  • The critically putting in place the necessary control measures to rectify the problem.
  • Record and share your findings so everyone is aware of the risks involved
  • Review and revise the plan where needed.

Identifying Risks

When identifying risks, the main risks to consider are those associated with your own group management, which is different to thinking about the whole safety management of any location.

For example –

Do I have to risk assess the Eiffel Tower?

However, it is much more useful to think about the task as managing the group safely around the series of obstacles the area presents. On consideration, the significant hazards to an average group would be –

  • Young people getting lost or the group being split up
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Sickness
  • Strangers
  • Petty theft
  • Trips on the stairs
  • Fear of heights

There is no need to ask for the Eiffel Tower’s own safety management systems as they are unlikely to be relevant to your group. Furthermore, if you think of the Eiffel Tower as a ‘public monument on an open site, featuring close proximity with other members of the public, potential crowd situations, access restrictions, height and lots of stairs/trip hazards’ then you can see that the risks will be common at similar locations.


Appropriate Control Measures

When deciding on how to control a group in any situation, it is useful to consider a range of measures that work together –

  • Leader to young people ratios
  • Appropriate dispersal of the leaders throughout the group
  • Qualified instructors if required for certain activities
  • Suitable clothing and equipment
  • Sun protection
  • Safe walk routes
  • Agreed code of conduct
  • Pre visit briefing

As it can be seen from the example above some risk assessments can be generic and can be the basis for a number of different risk assessments however your plan needs to be considered further and essential detail added as the makeup of each group will be different and will have specific needs.

For example –

The control measures used to protect the young people of the group would differ between a group of Beavers and Explorers because of the age and experience of the group members.

Having an Alternative – Plan Bs

Although leaders are not required to consider all the many, minor details that could possible change

it is important to think of the obvious ‘what ifs?’ such as -

  • What if a venue is weather dependent and can’t be used?
  • What if there is a sick young person, how will they be looked after and what effect will this have on the group?
  • What if one of the group leaders becomes out of action?

The ultimate Plan B is an Emergency Procedure for the worst-case scenarios. These might already be established within your wider network or county. Remember to ask about your tour operators and insurance companies emergency procedures and check how it fits in with yours.