Monthly Archives: April 2013

Approaches to valuing risk in field safety

The idea that perhaps children are becoming closeted, protected from all risk is not new but it is great to see more conversation about the value of risk appearing in lots of places.  We have always believed that developing outdoor skills and getting people out into the field with appropriate and pragmatic field safety skills is not only a benefit in terms of the activities themselves but in terms of the wider benefits of giving people the ability to be self sufficient and manage risk for themselves.  We recently wrote about this in an earlier blog post about safety in the mountains but I really liked this article about kids and knives to give us a very down to earth and day to day example.

Finding the right outdoor first aid course – new HSE guidelines

It can be a bit of a maze trying to find the right first aid training for you – and more changes to first aid regulations from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)  are expected to come into force on 1 October, subject to ministerial approval.

The upside of these changes will be it may help to take the emphasis off the ‘standard’ First aid at Work style courses and give greater flexibility to choose training providers and first aid training that is appropriate for your needs and risks. Whilst this freedom has actually always been in the regulations many people have felt they had to have what they often referred to as “the HSE one”.

outdoor first aid training

Relevant and practical first aid training for your environment

For many of our clients who work in outdoor or remote areas the new guidelines may allow people more freedom to chose an outdoor first aid, or expedition first aid course if this is more relevent to their working environment.

You can read the full draft HSE guidance on choosing courses and providers but rest assured that Training Expertise will continue to offer a range of fully certified workplace and outdoor first aid options.

If you would like to discuss which course is best for you, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Ultimate Field Safety – Off-road Unicycling is here!

Anyone who has been on one of our field safety or risk assessment courses recently will have discussed at length the merits of various different activities and how we can start to look constructively at risks and benefits, severity and likelihoods.  I often like what I thought was a hypothetical example of roller skating and stilt walking, on Striding Edge – well maybe that example is not so far from the truth – off-road unicycling is here…



Outdoor skills – the field safety advantages of using 112

It is crucial that in an emergency you know how to raise the emergency services.  This is a key element of any field safety plan and is key for anyone heading out on expeditions, working or practicing their outdoor skills in remote locations.

This useful video explains more about using 112 as an emergency number in the UK, tips for the best chance of getting help in remote locations and how to contact the emergency services by text.


Important outdoor skills – reversed polarity compasses on the increase

An important reminder from the Mountaineer Council of Scotland today about how electronic equipment is increasingly affecting the polarity of compasses and the affects this is having on mountain safety.  A crucial navigation and outdoor skill so all hill walkers and mountain folk beware, have a read…

If you are interested in outdoor skills training then take a look at our website or get in touch.


Managing Field Safety by Managing People

We run many field safety courses each year for university staff and students, for schools and for large commercial organisations, NGOs and charities. A recent four day field first aid and leadership course we were running in Norway got us reflecting on just how much of the content was about managing people.

Field safety in Norway

Dealing with first aid and incident management on field safety course in Norway

The timetable contained “soft skills scenarios”, “giving effective safety briefing”, and “leadership styles”. Even some of the harder skills of risk assessment were dominated by discussion of how to get people engaged with the process, how to share the information on risk assessments and how to get people to follow the control measures you have put in place.

Reading a step by step guide to the company’s overlying field safety policy with this in mind we noticed a little line we’d not really noticed before, “engage participants in a thinking approach to field safety”. It really made us reflect on quite how important this often neglected area is. It can be too easy to get focused on safety policies and paperwork and forget that so much of fieldwork safety comes down to the skill of the organisers and leaders to engage everyone in a thoughtful and common sense approach to risk management.

The course focused on group management skills, delivery styles and options for quality field safety briefings. These are core to any successful safety management and are skills which are crucial to outdoor instructors and commercial exploration managers, to school teachers and field scientists alike.

If you are interested in learning more about field safety and leadership skills, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Field safety in the Mountains

So much has been written recently about safety in the mountains, in particular in relation to a number of winter deaths in the mountains in Scotland.  I think as mountain people, deeply ingrained in belief in the value of free and open mountain access our general reaction is often that, “these things will happen”, that we know and accept the risks.  This argument perhaps stands up where the incidents occur to experienced and knowledgeable people who were facing known risks for an activity they love.

Winter conditions in Spring
Beautiful but challenging conditions in the Lakes this weekend

However out walking in the Lakes over this bank holiday weekend I was struck by a real challenge to my natural natural reaction to field safety as I was passed by streams of inappropriately dressed and prepared people.  Trainers and jogging bottoms were out in force, axes and crampons rare sights and clearly there was a lack of understanding of the potential dangers.

As ever I felt that confliction – on the one hand between a natural aversion to ‘nanny stating’, ‘elf and safety’ and the joy at seeing people out in the outdoors, undeterred by the weather – on the other there was a fear that too many of these people lacked the basic skills, inexperience and crucially judgement to be out in the conditions they found themselves in.

So what is the solution, I guess it will always smack of bias when as a training organisation we talk about the importance of outdoor skills training but that has to be a critical part.  But how do you share that general knowledge as widely as is required?  Should there be some restriction, some level of required training – this cuts against the grain in so many ways.  Perhaps the key is building these skills in early, at school so that we can increase the base level of skills, knowledge and awareness to allow more and more people to enjoy the mountains with both freedom and safety.