"Safety Soapbox" Archive - May 2001
While many accidents have identifiable objective factors the majority come down to human factors. These factors are harder to identify
and manage than the objective factors, but with a little thought and
effort they can be assessed and usually improved. The first consideration
of "human factors" should take place in the planning stage.
Give some thought to the group leadership, even if will only be important
in a stressful event such as an accident or suddenly changing weather.
Many groups prefer not to have a leader but in certain situations one
must emerge. It's helpful in the planning stage to consider this.
Think about decision making processes. Don't just identify an objective,
have at least one alternate plan. Know where and/or when the choice
on alternate objectives needs to be made. And consider how your group
will make decisions and how to keep them focused on the right criteria.
Consider the group dynamics as well. How many people will be in your group?
What are their backgrounds? Do they have the same risk propensity and
similar objectives? Are there any "hidden agendas" (related
either to the trip goals or to other participants?)
Finally, remember that communication within your group is essential.
This also begins in the planning stage. Identify objectives and alternatives,
necessary equipment, how physically demanding the trip is and identify
potential risks. Communicating all these things to all potential participants
can help them choose whether to go or not and can help prevent problems
later during the trip.
These same factors are important as the trip progresses.
A well planned trip is usually a successful trip - that is where it all