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Your equipment must be appropriate and in good condition to ensure the safety of staff and clients. Selection, regular checks and inspections, maintenance, records and retirement processes are all part of the equipment ‘life cycle’.  It is important that emergency equipment is included in these processes.


Safety implications and the cost of buying and using the wrong equipment are strong reasons for making careful selection decisions. Therefore:

  • Consider  industry standards when deciding what equipment is needed for staff, clients, activity set-up and operation, and emergency response
  • Select equipment that is fit for purpose and will be used according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Make sure the right staff are involved in the selection process (consider using external experts)

Pre-use Checks

Check equipment before use to ensure it is in safe working condition bearing in mind that:

  • Any damaged/unsuitable equipment should not be used and must be reported, removed from use and isolated e.g. clearly marked ‘not safe for use’ or put in an agreed ‘out of service’ area. Missing items should also be reported
  • Equipment logs can help track use and encourage checks i.e. sign out before use, and sign in on return
  • Hire equipment should also be checked before use

Use, Inspection & Maintenance

Correct use, inspection and maintenance help ensure equipment is not the cause of incidents. Therefore:

"The best thing we ever did was check with some attraction operators about how they manage the phase-out of critical equipment. We operate in an alpine environment, but we now apply similar thinking to our equipment management"

  • Ensure that someone with appropriate technical expertise is responsible
  • Ensure that staff are trained in equipment use; both standard and emergency equipment
  • Document training and supervise staff until they are able to use equipment safely
  • Identify how often thorough equipment inspections will be carried out. This may vary from one type of equipment to another
  • Inspections should include a check of equipment logs for any notes/concerns, and result in updated equipment records, including what is due for replacement
  • Carry out regular maintenance when needed and according to manufacturers recommendations
  • Correct storage and good everyday equipment care are key factors. A strong safety culture helps to ensure they will happen; induction is an opportunity to keep this alive
  • Ensure that you will know if equipment you use is recalled by a manufacturer. Connections with outdoor sector organisations and other operators will help with this 


Retirement should follow clear guidelines e.g. certain safety equipment may need to be destroyed to prevent future-misuse. This process should include:

  • Following manufacturers’ recommendations regarding suggested retirement requirements
  • Checking with other operators and/or national organisations if manufacturers’ guidelines are not clear
  • Monitoring levels and conditions of use and storage, all of which may influence retirement dates

Staff Equipment

 Where the equipment’s primary function is safety, and staff are not supplying their own, suitable items must be provided for staff to use e.g. helmets. When staff choose to supply their own clothing and equipment (for reasons of comfort or convenience):

  • It should be checked to ensure that it is in safe condition and is aligned to industry standards
  • Checks should be recorded 


The best system in the world will fail if it is poorly understood. It is critical that training on equipment is thorough and regular, therefore:

"As with all our systems, the challenge has been more about keeping it working than building it... "

  • Staff should be trained in the set-up, use, safety checks and maintenance of equipment. This must include both standard operating and emergency equipment
  • Training should ensure your team know they are  individually responsible for ensuring that equipment is in good shape by doing thorough checks, raising concerns and asking if unsure
  • The person(s) identified as being responsible for managing equipment selection, inspection and maintenance should have adequate skills and/or training in appropriate techniques and safety practices
  • All training should be recorded.

Record Keeping

Recording the purchase, use and maintenance of equipment helps to monitor the condition, and develop increased knowledge of its expected lifespan. This is often done through the use of equipment logs, and/or an equipment register, together with an equipment replacement programme. When establishing a record keeping system ensure that you:

  • Record equipment details. Consider including  equipment type, number and date purchased, any identifying markings, intended usage and usage restrictions, retirement information, safety concerns
  • Can identify equipment if necessary. Systems used should reflect the expected life span of the equipment and any safety concerns e.g. options may include labelling with company name and purchase date, use of  individual identifiers such as coloured tags or using a batching approach  (record the number of items in the batch and inspect them all on the same cycle)
  • Keep detailed equipment logs where necessary e.g. rope use
  • Keep registers/log books for each vehicle and include details of inspections, damage, repairs and maintenance