Why did I choose this tool? Safety in a training activity is a multi-layer concept that involves both physical and emotional safety of the participants and is crucial in order to have an educational process (of course the group might learn a lot about crisis management and first aid if someone falls down the cliff or a chair and breaks a hand, but let’s not practice that). This tool has to do more with physical safety and encourages you to build awareness about the existing regulations.
How does this apply to being a trainer? Safety first. As trainers we naturally become responsible for the safety of the participants. Being a central figure in the educational event, we are expected and should take into consideration the safety regulations and risks of the venue, evaluate the methods that we chose to use and be ready to take charge if something goes wrong.
When it comes to physical safety, regulations are often something that we do not need to develop ourselves. Go through the legal documents from your country (or from the country that you will be working in) and check what are the requirements for educational activities. This is even more important if you are working with underaged participants and in that case might include signed agreements from parents, a requirement for you to be trained and have a first-aid certificate and so on. Write down the recommendations and warnings from the documents regarding the safety issues.
The venue. For the safety regulations on the venue a few aspects are important:
- where is it located, what are the legal regulations of the country, how it could affect the educational programme and what the participants should know;
- are there any dangerous places that the participants might wander to (especially in the norming stage when they feel indestructible) and whether they should be warned about roads, water, cliffs, forests, dangerous animals or insects, hunting, unfriendly neighbors etc.
- any regulations that the venue has. It is recommended to “inspect” the venue before you start the educational activities in the same way that is proposed in the tool “Identifying the potential of environment”, just this time I’d recommend going around and searching for possible risks. Here is a check-list that is used in the UK for inspecting the inside of the school or classroom. http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/classroom-checklist.pdf Look through the list carefully and critically and use the aspects that are relevant for working with your group.
The activities. Regarding the activities and safety, read more in the “Thinking safety” tool. What is connected to regulations, is mainly applicable to outdoor education activities. Kayaking, high ropes, rock climbing, etc. These safety regulations are something that is fixed, therefore in case you are planning to organize experiential outdoor education methods, do look for safety regulations. There are plenty of those online. For example: high ropes http://www.morfabay.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/High-Ropes.pdf; rock climbing: https://www.theuiaa.org/safety-standards/; canoeing: https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/uploads/documents/Event-Safety-Guidance-5.pdf
Now it’s time to think about the existing regulations and possible risks regarding the physical aspects of the venue and to develop a safety plan. The safety plan includes information about what can be done and who will do it. After developing a safety plan, give it to a colleague for feedback.
- What are the aspects of physical safety that are not addressed in this tool?
- Which of the regulations do not seem relevant to you? Why not?
How to apply it in everyday life:
- Take the elaborated safety plan with you to the venue of your next training activity and discuss it with the team of trainers. Add what is missing and revise it when necessary.
Look more into detail about the attentiveness to safety of the learners group in the tool “Thinking safety”