Stricter adventure tourism regulations could give politicians the power to shut down activities threatened by natural hazards

Adventure activity operators are reluctant to give politicians the power to step in and shut them down when natural hazards make activities too risky, but agree that some changes are needed in the wake of the Whakaari White Island disaster.

Allowing Cabinet, Minister of Workplace Relations or WorkSafe to cancel or suspend adventure activity operations when risks exceed acceptable levels is part of a series of proposals to reduce fatalities multiples caused by natural events

On average, adventure activities kill six people per year, according to the Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and four of these deaths are caused by natural hazards such as flooding. , landslides, rockfall, extreme weather conditions or volcanic eruptions.

The ministry provides security Adventure Activities Report Calls On The Public For Their Opinion On Changes That Could Give WorkSafe Greater Response Powers, Prompt Operators To More Describe The Risks Customers Face, And Impose On Landowners better management of natural risks.

READ MORE:
* WorkSafe intensifies controls on adventure tourism after Whakaari
* Government orders review of WorkSafe visits to White Island of Whakaari
* Audit of adventure activities might be upset – but some call it ‘covering the butt’
* The adventure tourism regulations are under review again, what about the role of WorkSafe?

Tongariro River Rafting offers rafting and mountain biking activities, and the collapsing cliffs along the river is one of the risks he should consider.

provided

Tongariro River Rafting offers rafting and mountain biking activities, and the collapsing cliffs along the river is one of the risks he should consider.

Aotearoa tourism industry chief executive Chris Roberts chaired an expert advisory group with input to the MBIE report, and said some members were uncomfortable with the idea that Cabinet or ministers could ban certain activities, but felt it should at least be in place for public debate.

“One of the big issues is who should be the decision maker when a natural disaster risk has reached the level at which people should be required to stay away?

“Is it the guide, is it the travel agency, is it the landowner, is it WorkSafe or is it even the government?” “

In the case of Whakaari, the island is privately owned, which puts it out of the control of government agencies such as the Department of Conservation (DOC) which can shut down areas of the Crown domain, such as the Tongariro Alpine. Crossing, if the volcanic activity reaches dangerous levels.

Garth Oakden, owner of Tongariro River Rafting, opposes the involvement of politicians in the decision-making process.

“It’s far too long for a big stick … Letting politicians stray into something like this is the kiss of death.”

Matt and Lauren Urey on Whakaari on the day of the 2019 eruption which left them with severe burns.  It was suggested that members of the tour group were not sufficiently informed about the risks they would face on the island where volcanic activity had recently increased.

Provided

Matt and Lauren Urey on Whakaari on the day of the 2019 eruption which left them with severe burns. It was suggested that members of the tour group were not sufficiently informed about the risks they would face on the island where volcanic activity had recently increased.

Over a five-year period to the end of 2019, WorkSafe has been notified of 32 deaths related to adventure activities, of which six of the eight incidents involving registered operators, and four were natural occurrences.

The MBIE report said natural hazard disasters that killed more than five people occurred at least every 10 years in the adventure business industry.

The high rate of damage did not appear to be decreasing and current regulations did not explicitly address natural hazards or the standard of risk disclosure to participants.

Part of the problem was that business incentives to keep travel have led some operators to “push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable”.

Some landowners also had a ‘hands off’ approach, leaving the management of natural hazards to the operators, but in the future they may need to take a more active role, for example by providing records of previous flood levels. in the canyons and getting expert advice on the likelihood of the cliffs collapsing.

The proposed changes to the oversight of adventure activities could see the introduction of a risk classification system, with operators being required to disclose the risk score of each activity.

Provided

The proposed changes to the oversight of adventure activities could see the introduction of a risk classification system, with operators being required to disclose the risk score of each activity.

Oakden said there were three owners along his Tongariro River rafting route, and he is eager to see how the risk of cliff collapses, which sometimes occurs, will be handled.

“If all of a sudden we have to assess every cliff in the river, how do we do it? It is just not practical.

A proposal requiring operators to record near misses with WorkSafe, so that worrying trends can be detected and lessons learned before someone is seriously injured or killed, should receive broad support and Roberts said his group had insisted on it.

“There is no information sharing through WorkSafe with operators, so if someone has a near miss with their business, other operators could learn from it and improve their own systems, but this information are not currently shared, they are not even saved. “

Adventure Mark’s security auditor Hemi Morete agrees and says potentially important data is not being collected.

“If you roll your quad, jump and jump freely, and it tumbles down the side of the hill, this is not to be reported.”

In 2008, one of the worst incidents of adventure activity in New Zealand saw a teacher and six students at an Auckland school die in a flash flood in Mangatepopo Gorge, near Turangi.

Graham Charles / Hedgehoghouse.com

In 2008, one of the worst incidents of adventure activity in New Zealand saw a teacher and six students at an Auckland school die in a flash flood in Mangatepopo Gorge, near Turangi.

The MBIE report says reportable incidents could include a volcanic eruption or area of ​​land occurring in an area where adventure activities regularly take place, people stranded in a ravine or cave by rising waters, hypothermia and personnel or clients requiring rescue.

Monitoring of the 321 registered adventure operators could also be strengthened.

Currently, they receive a site visit by a certified safety auditor every three years, with documentation reviews or operator statements in between, unless there is cause for concern, but Morete would like the government to fund spot checks of adventure operators if necessary.

“We would like to see visits without notice, so they never know when we are coming, the problem when the customer pays for it is that they know exactly when we are coming and prepare accordingly.”

WorkSafe stepped up oversight of the adventure tourism industry in December 2019 following the Whakaari White Island tragedy and confirmed that since that date it has issued 11 improvement notices and 10 written or verbal instructions.

Two operations were put on hold due to health and safety concerns, but their records were restored once those issues were resolved.

WorkSafe has filed charges against 13 parties in connection with the deaths and injuries resulting from the Whakaari eruption and the case is still in court.


Source link

Comments are closed.