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Importance of Risk Management in the Adventure Leisure Industry

Critically illustrate the importance, and societal context of risk management within the adventure leisure industry In recent decades the emphasis on risks and risk management within the adventure leisure industry has been has been escalating and is now greater than ever. This emphasis is due to the introduction of more stringent legislation from the associated governing bodies, threatening more severe consequences if businesses do not practice within the regulated guidelines.The objective of this essay is to analyse risks within adventure activities and to determine the importance of the management of risk within this field of outdoor leisure.

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This will be achieved by researching past occurrences in the leisure industry that have resulted in accident or death, which could have been avoided had a thorough risk assessment been constructed. In addition, by exploring the motivation behind participating in such activities, this essay will uncover the degree to which risk is actually required in order for an adventure activity to occur.As written by (Barton 2007:2) “We are exposed to risk from the moment of our conception to our death”. If this is the case, then undoubtedly there must be forces set into place in order to manage and assess these risks that we are subjected to in day to day life. If a risk is able to be assessed, the severity of it is able to be calculated. Consequently, the hazard that resulting from that risk is able to be determined and prevented. When planning a leisure activity, it is imperative that the organising party carries out an incredibly thorough and informative risk assessment.Hazards in adventure activities include falls from height, drowning, falling objects, lightning strikes, equipment failure, assault, cold injury, and many more (Barton 2007:12). The reason why a complete and logical risk assessment is necessary is so that leading personnel are able to provide proof that everything in their power has been done in order to prevent the activity resulting in any hazards or injuries to those participating.This will not only supply the organising body with a sense of comfort that the activity they are planning and instigating is safe so as to protect them from any potential legal involvement, but also the availability of a risk assessment is likely to be an appealing factor to prospective partakers‘. Risks are identified by reviewing historical information and industry standards; interviewing subject matter experts; conducting brainstorming sessions with the organising team, vendors, and key stakeholders; and some times through simulation and scenario forecasting (Silvers 2004:52).Wilks and Davis (cited in Swarbrooke, 2003) explain how all discovered risks are able to be rated in order to decide the way in which they should be tackled. This can be done by comparing the predicted frequency of a hazard, by its severity. Frequent incidents with slight consequences can, in most situations, be considered an entirely tolerable risk, we might even say a trivial risk (Barton 2007:12). By rating a risk, it can be differentiated between a risk that has great potential to cause injury of death, and a risk that can easily be tackled and therefore will barely be influential in the construction of an activity.In March of 1993 four teenagers were killed in a canoeing accident in Lyme Regis whilst on a school trip. The deaths of the young students was widely put down to lack of supervision and negligence which consists in “the duty of care and consequent injury” (Scott 1993:45). When carrying out such potentially dangerous activities “One cannot overemphasize the importance of supervision” (Hronek et al 2002:255). The evidence that supported the Llyme Bay legal battle that followed was that ‘the coastguard owed the kayakers a duty of care and that they had conducted the search and rescue operation negligently’ (Fulbrook 2005:27-28).Being careful and prepared are not only sensible attributes for activity co-ordination, it is ever more important for the organising personnel. This is progressively more significant as the management of risk is increasingly regulated into legislation and policy (Silvers 2004:170). The law is becoming much more focused upon the adventure leisure industry after such events as Lyme Bay illustrated above. Bradford (2000) explains that during the early 1990‘s, organisers of outdoor adventure activities were able to volunteer to abide by codes of practice set up by a variety of independent organisations.A company may have wished to have done so in order to improve their business. By stating that they were operating within an organisations health and safety regulations, they would have been able to project a sense of reassurance across to their customers. Following the tragedy in March 1993, the attitude of many changed dramatically and there was a wide spread belief that more needed to be done to encourage safer organisations. This would help to prevent any further disasters and deaths. The first development of more enforced regulations being placed into practice was in 1993.The English Tourist Board brought together a group representing most of the voluntary approval bodies and other interested parties, who issued a code of practice for outdoor adventure leisure activities (Bradford 2000). Followed by the Activity Centres (Young Persons safety) Act 1995. The introduction of more intense and purposeful legislation has consequently placed evermore pressure upon the organisers of such activities. This has lead to leisure managers having to direct far more attention to the health and safety of those participating in the activities they are providing.As well as an activity organizing company wishing to protect their customers to the greatest extent for fear of the legal confrontation that may follow if accused of irresponsible and neglectful practice, there are other reasons why an organizing body may wish to carry out a thorough risk assessment. If an accident was to occur which involved a member of staff, the employer risks losing money through the provision of sick pay, as well as losing an employee for an undetermined period of time. Pro-active management helps to eliminate such an occurrence arising.In addition, the execution of the introduction of control measures helps to define areas of responsibility and communicates a standard for performance. Despite the owner of an organization having the most recognized power concerning any health and safety issues, authority is able to be un-officially segregated throughout the businesses personal hierarchy. This is determined by the position of power an individual is in within the organization: Manager, assistant manager, supervisor, and so on. The benefit of dividing up job roles and esponsibility in such a way is that every position of employment will experience a sense of responsibility; each to a different degree, yet still the sensation of business involvement and therefore the motivation to excel in their field will be present. Pro-active management strategies can be the most effective strategies because they are implemented according to the planning of the organization, rather than because of a need to respond to outside pressure and expectations from the public or a governing body Smith (2005:82).Essentially this is the detection and managing of a problematic issue, before it has the opportunity to present itself within the business. Risk assessment therefore plays an intricate part of this process. Successful pro-active management within the organization will help to ensure that the customers along with the members of staff are constantly and consistently satisfied and comfortable. It is evident that the success of an activity regarding its safety and reliance is significantly related to the experience and awareness of the activities leader.Experienced leaders develop a sixth sense of when the odds are beginning to stack up against them and they will automatically see an activity in the wider context, Barton (2007:89). It is therefore imperative that that a leader of any nature of leisure activity is able to predict potential future hazards and subsequently learn from their previous mistakes. According to Barton (2007:89), leader of activities that are not so experienced are less likely to see the signals of an approaching risk, and tend to view minor set-backs as isolated incidents, rather than as bricks in a growing wall.Organisers’ must realise that these seemingly unimportant hindrances will gather pace and build up to a much larger scale problematic occurrence. Despite the increasing demand for safer and risk free activities, a balance must be established in order to keep within legislation created by the governing bodies, whilst still creating the same sense of adventure and possible danger that has lead to the success of an adventure activity. If every risk in life was assessed and accounted for, and every hazard was liminated, the world would be an incredibly safe, organised, and trouble free place. However, risks cause excitement and adrenalin within one’s life. Without risk, there is no fear of risk, in which case there are no opportunities presented for one to take risks. As explained by Barton (2007:2) If we bring up children to believe that physical, emotional or intellectual risks are to be avoided, then we can hardly be surprised if the future does not bring great people; poets, artists, play writes, successors to Captain Cook, to Darwin, and to Shakespeare.Without some form of risk, engineers could never have designed the great bridges that span the widest rivers, homes would still be heated by fireplaces or parlour stoves, electric power utilities would not exist, polio would still be maiming children, no airplanes would fly, and space travel would just be a dream (Aven 2003:2) The word ‘Adventure’ implies that there is an element of risk involved in the activity that is to be undertaken.The reason why this is a positive attribute to the organising body is that many leisure seekers are in search of a sense of adventure, risk and an adrenaline rush. Despite the general consensus that every risk should be accounted for and every attempt should be made to ensure no hazards present themselves, without the lingering sensation in the very back of a participant mind that something may go wrong; a rope may break, a parachute may not open, the ‘Adventure’ is almost completely removed from the ‘Leisure Activity’.To conclude, when regarding the adventure leisure industry, the concept of risk management and assessment are fundamental aspects that must be constantly considered when running a business that provides such activities. The laws that have been introduced throughout recent years have placed increasing pressure on organizations to concentrate on the health and safety of their patrons to a much greater degree. Failure to do so, as has been seen in the past throughout such incidents as Lyme Bay, may well result in powerful legal consequences or even closure of their establishment.There is no doubt that risk and uncertainty are important concepts to address for supporting decision-making in many situations. The challenge is to know how to describe, measure, and communicate risk and uncertainty (Aven 2003:4). However, the popularity that adventure leisure activities hold derives from the exact concept of risk itself. Participants of such activities choose to take part in order to; gain a sense of personal accomplishment, face their fears, experience a surge of adrenalin, and ultimately test themselves to their physical and mental boundaries.A balance must be established within the process of managing risk. If this balance can be successfully determined, than the adventure leisure industry will be able to provide the same level of audacious activity, whilst staying within all governing guidelines’, and providing the highest degree of safety for all those that they accommodate for.