Outdoor Council

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The next generation is tomorrow’s workforce. Helping young people to experience and handle risk is part of preparing them for adult life and the world of work. Young people can gain this experience from participating in challenging and exciting outdoor events made possible by organisations prepared to adopt a common sense and proportionate approach that balances benefits and risk.

I support this publication for the encouragement that it gives to everyone to adopt such an approach. Judith Hackitt CBE, Chair, Health and Safety Executive Developing confidence and risk judgement among young people is crucial if we are to structure a society that is not risk averse. We need to accept that uncertainty is inherent in adventure, and this contains the possibility of adverse outcomes.

A young person’s development should not be unduly stifled by the proper need to consider the worst consequence of risk but must be balanced by its likelihood and indeed its benefits. Counter-intuitively, the key to challenging risk aversion among leaders and decision makers, is the application of balanced risk assessment.

It is only by objective analysis that the benefits and opportunities of an activity can be weighed against their potential to go wrong. Indeed I feel that the terminology should be changed to ‘risk/benefit assessment’.

For the most part, as previous generations have learnt by experience, it is rare indeed that a well planned exercise leads to accident. It will instead be most likely to bring a sense of enterprise, fun and accomplishment, so vital for maturity, judgement and well-being, which must nearly always offset the residual and inevitable risk.

Our mantra at RoSPA sums up this approach: We must try to make life as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. This is why I am delighted to support the work of the OEAP and Tim Gill with Nothing Ventured. We welcome the debate this will promote. Tom Mullarkey OBE, Chief Executive, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

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