This is an excerpt from Risk Management in Outdoor and Adventure Programs by Aram Attarian.
Administrators, instructors, and professional guides working in adventure-based programs or organizations face critical decisions in their efforts to keep their participants safe from the dangers associated with risk-related activities. Risk is an essential element in the conduct of any guided or adventure program. The challenge for a guide or instructor is to strike a balance between real and perceived risk when delivering a course or program. Too little risk results in bored participants, whereas too much risk can be dangerous.
Taking appropriate risk management actions can reduce real risks while keeping perceived risks high. Managing risk in organized and guided adventure programs can reduce the probability and severity of accidents and injuries and minimize liability exposure for the organization and its employees. To minimize risk, program providers exert significant effort to address risk factors. A risk factor is something that increases the chances of a negative event occurring. Many of the misadventures that occur in guided and outdoor adventure programs are the result of inherent risks. Inherent risks are risks that cannot be eliminated without changing the nature of the activity.
To manage risks and enhance safety, program directors should establish a set of safety objectives while accepting the fact that mistakes can and will happen. Implementing backup systems, empowering employees to be responsible for safety, and analyzing and stressing the importance of accident and near-miss reporting should also be priorities for managing risk (Sagan, 1995).
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