Logo Jim Frankenfield
jim@mountain-guiding.com; 1-877-604-0166

Mountain Guiding; Mountain Safety
An Experienced Professional

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Guiding Newsletter

"Safety Soapbox" Archive - May 2001


Human Factors

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 begins.


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