Hillary Outdoors’ safety systems have over 40 years experience of working with young people in the outdoors to draw from. These systems are regularly checked and re-assessed by internal and external experts, from instructors to managers. Over the past few years, Hillary Outdoors has fully redeveloped all of these systems and you will find an overview of them here, however if you are looking for more detail about each of them, you can either follow the links in the overview below or take a look at our FAQ page under the safety section. This includes information about the Mangatepopo Tragedy in 2008 and associated learning that will help ensure such circumstances are avoided in the future
Follow the tabs below to read more about our new safety system. The key element of this system is the document entitled “Fundamental Principles of Safety Management at Hillary Outdoors”, covering the ten key categories for consideration of safety matters.
- Hillary Outdoors is a registered Adventure Activity provider and is subject to regular OutdoorsMark audits
- Hillary Outdoors continues to work closely with other leading organisations in this industry to help regulate it further and tighten up on processes to lift New Zealand outdoor safety standards
Hillary Outdoors has a three tier safety system that comprises:
- Tier One – Fundamental Principles of Safety Management
These principles make up the over-arching tier of our Safety Management System. Each principle is accompanied by a description of how it is to be interpreted and applied. A chart that visually illustrates these principles can be viewed here. These principles describe the way that we approach all aspects of managing safety for our clients.
- Tier Two – Instructor Handbooks
Instructor Handbooks are carried at all times by Instructors working in the field with groups, and by the Duty Manager. This waterproof document contains policies, briefing points, crisis response information and hazards. The Instructor Handbook and AMPs (see below) together comprise our complete hazard register. This Handbook focuses on documenting hazards that apply to particular outdoor environments (e.g. caves, or the bush) and to particular activities (e.g. surf kayaking, or mountaineering)
- Tier Three – Activity Management Plans (AMPs)
AMPs record site-specific hazards. AMPs for outdoor sites must be read in conjunction with the Instructor Handbook. Almost all AMPs for outdoor sites are a 2-sided laminated A4 sheet, and are carried by the instructors as they visit a site to participate in an activity. They are often very detailed, with FLASH* ratings, photos, and maps to clearly communicate other information such as radio dead zones, escape routes, safe zones and so on. Take a look at an example AMP: AMP Cave Okupata Caves
How we meet the Ministry of Education, EOTC Safety Guidelines
The following document contains answers to the questions you may be asked by your Principal, or Board of Trustees about Hillary Outdoors’ safety systems in order to meet the guidelines for Education Outside of the Classroom set by the Ministry of Education. Some of the answers contain hyperlinks to sections of our safety policy.
All Hillary Outdoors staff are trained and assessed in their ability to actively manage risk in a variety of situations and environments. Training occurs at induction and continues throughout their career with Hillary Outdoors. All our Instructors have relevant and current skills, first aid certificates and appropriate driving licences. Changing conditions during the day are monitored by our Duty Manager as well as by instructors in the field. Activities are cancelled, or adapted and contingency plans put into place if necessary. We are proud of our standards of safety. If there is any aspect of the above information on which you require greater detail – please do ask us and we will be happy to provide it.
While Hillary Outdoors takes full responsibility for your students’ safety during activity times, we hope that teachers & supporting adults choose to participate in our activities, you do know your students best! Generally we will ask teachers to be ‘silent/cooperative supporters’ as it is important your students look to their Instructor for guidance during practical activities.
Between 5pm and 8.45am (with the exception of overnight expeditions away from the Centre), the school (Teacher i/c) is responsible for the care of the students – & the same ratio of 1:10 is a good guideline to work to. Our staff support this by running evening activities and additional back up is available in the form of a Duty Manager. Accompanying adults will be provided with a handbook which outlines their responsibilities including what to do in an emergency. We may also ask you or your other staff member(s) to take responsibility for any students who are unable to take part in the programme on a particular day, for example due to sickness.
- We are proud to have been awarded OutdoorsMark status and as a part of this a safety audit is carried out every three years. We also have a rolling schedule of internal and external activity reviews.
- All structures and critical equipment have scheduled inspections
- All of our vehicles have current Warrants of Fitness (or Certificate of Fitness)
- All of our buildings meet required standards and are checked regularly against our maintenance schedule
- All gear and equipment used is logged and inspected regularly. We have a full time Resource Officer in charge of our outdoor equipment at Hillary Outdoors Tongariro.
- Our kitchens are audited by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority
All safety equipment required for your programme is supplied by Hillary Outdoors unless otherwise discussed. Students are provided with a list of equipment and clothing they need to bring in their Student Information Booklet. In addition to this we have an extensive collection of personal clothing and equipment which we lend to students who do not have their own, or what they bring is inappropriate/inadequate.
At Hillary Outdoors Tongariro, our Youth Development Centre and two of our Chalets are wheelchair accessible. At GBI wheelchair disabilities are catered for in specifically converted, ground floor facilities. Hillary Outdoors has the capacity to provide a range of programmes for people with disabilities. Please discuss any students special needs with us when you make your booking. Frequently we encounter students whose parents have withheld information on the medical/consent form feeling their child will be discriminated against – in fact the opposite is more commonly the case! Please encourage parents to fully share information – together we can do a great job. We have excellent facilities and systems in place to work well with a wide range of students regardless of their issues – dietary, behavioural, self esteem related, etc.
It is the school’s responsibility to ensure the participant medical/consent forms have been fully completed and signed. These must be given to the instructor in charge on arrival. Any participant without a signed form will not be allowed to take part in activities. A large proportion of our incidents are the reoccurrence of pre existing injuries, often undeclared on the medical forms. Please encourage parents to share all pre existing conditions with us, however minor.
Please ensure your school has its own emergency procedures in place for your visit, including a 24 hour off site emergency contact number. This should be provided to Hillary Outdoors and the parents of attending students.
Although not formally part of our Safety Management System, we believe it is important to identify the ownership and responsibilities for safety within Hillary Outdoors’ organisational Structure:
Hillary Outdoors Trust Board
Strategic view of safety and checking performance of organisation
Safety Advisory Committee
The Safety Advisory Committee supports the Hillary Outdoors Trust Board and operational Centres to be continuously developing and improving safety. External experts work alongside Trust and management representatives.
Setting safety culture and ensure there is compliance across the organisation to safety efforts and reporting.
Responsibility for Health and Safety compliance in the Centre in conjunction with the Centre Manager.
The Duty Manager role rotates between management and senior field staff. During the period of duty this person is responsible 24 hours a day for the immediate safety of groups in the field. All Duty Managers are trained and supported by their Centre Manager and clear handover processes are in place. The role includes collecting and sharing weather forecast information and closing activities as required.
Train instructional staff at Hillary Outdoors Tongariro to be able to perform within organisational safety standards. Directly manages trainee and new instructors. At Hillary Outdoors Great Barrier this role is shared by the Centre Manager, Programme Manager and Operations Manage roles.
Risks in planning and execution of all events
Apply Hillary Outdoors safety management system in practice and continuously monitor for and manage new hazards in the field
Facilities and Catering team
Manage specific hazards in catering and maintenance department including responsibility for vehicles.