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Checking your systems

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The way you operate needs to be regularly checked to ensure your systems are the best they can be, that your safety management plan accurately reflects these, and that you and your team are ‘walking your talk’. One person has responsibility for making this happen, but everyone in your team is responsible for being part of the process.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 applies to all operations and it is considered good practice to undertake an external safety audit. The Adventure Activities Regulations 2011 have made it a legal requirement for some operators to undertake an external audit and become registered. For more information see the 'Adventure Activities Regulations' section.

Internal Checks

How to check

"We have a rolling roster for checking our systems. Every three months two of our team check our systems e.g. is the guide training up to date? Is the crisis plan accurate? Are the first aid kits sealed and in the right place? It’s done on a weather day and helps to keep all of our staff involved with the running of the place..."

Internal checks of your overall plan, your operational systems, and what you actually do, should:

  • Involve your team; it’s not a solo effort!
  • Include everyone knowing they are personally responsible for following agreed safety systems
  • Be both a normal part of your day, and also include more formal “audit” style processes e.g. end of trip staff meetings, versus a pre-season equipment check
  • Foster a culture where feedback is welcome on anything and everything
  • Result in concerns being addressed
  • Occur at a time that suits your operation e.g. larger audit style checks at quieter times or on bad weather days
  • Consider  using a peer review e.g. a reciprocal safety systems check with another operator
  • Encourage and take into account client feedback

What to check

Your safety system checks should include:

  • Tailored and systematic checks of every aspect of your operation
  • Checking your systems against current industry practice
  • Checking your systems against current legislation requirements
  • Observing your staff on the job – are they following agreed procedures, and if not, why not?
  • Analysing your incident data with all staff to remind them of previous incidents, what actions were recommended, and to ensure that correct follow-up action has been undertaken
  • Checklists, forms and other similar safety tools – are they correct, useful and being used as intended?

External Checks

"Achieving an external safety audit was a rewarding experience for our glacier guiding operation" 

External checks need to add value to your operation. Therefore:

  • Organise them well in advance and schedule them for a time that suits your operation
  • Select an audit provider that suits your needs and your operation
  • Know the key areas where you would value advice and ensure you draw on your auditor’s experience to get the answers you need
  • Contact your auditor early to ensure that you both have all the information you need, including their audit criteria
  • Organise  your own internal check before the on-site visit (if possible this should be against the external audit criteria)
  • Ensure that as many of your team are on-site as possible, especially key staff.
  • Allow time for required follow-up actions and audit completion
  • Consider engaging with your local Occupational Safety and Health inspector. If you do have an incident and they have already visited your operation they are more likely to be able to provide useful help, advice and support
  •  Many of the components mentioned under ‘internal checks’ will apply here as well

Record Keeping

Recording your systems checks is an important aspect of monitoring your safety management plan. Records should show:

  • Who was involved in the checking process
  • When and which areas of your operation were checked
  • How the checking occurred e.g. by observing staff running an activity or by reviewing checklists and forms
  • Action and learning points resulting from the checks, and details on when and how they are followed up
  • When and how your operation was checked against  external measures e.g. activity specific guidelines or an audit tool