Adventurous activities abroad come under the safety spotlight with revised standard

14 August 2014

Adventure travel, by its very nature, carries elements of risk. Whether you are organizing the venture yourself or using a provider, it is crucial that the common and foreseeable risks are managed, BS 8488 the British standard for organizing and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the UK was first published by BSI, the business standards company in 2007. It was the first specification to address the risk management of ventures abroad, ensuring that the organizer was ultimately accountable for all aspects of the trip, including any elements that are outsourced.

The standard has undergone its first full revision (having had an amendment added in 2009) and comes in line with the latest in industry practice. It not only helps adventure travel providers,  it also helps guide the consumer in making the best choices when choosing a provider. For example consumers get:

  • Criteria for selecting of providers
  • Confirmation of safety management  taken by venture providers
  • Informed on what information they can expect
  • Provided with a method to demand information that may not be forthcoming

Venture providers receive:

  • A management tool comprising a planning guide, reference document and guide selection of third parties
  • An internal verification tool comprising current processes check
  • A conformity indicator informing consumers of conformity, enabling self-declaration, other party assessment and certification

BS 8848 is useful to any individual or organization based in the UK that is planning to organize an adventurous trip outside the UK. It is relevant to the travel sector, particularly those who organize and run adventurous expeditions, the voluntary sector (including gap years), academic/research sector, schools and charities. 

Dan Palmer Head of Market Development for Manufacturing and Services at BSI said: “BS 8848 addresses the very important issue of the safety of our children, friends and families when they embark on a potentially risky trip abroad. Organizers can be filled with good intentions but preventable accidents sometimes happen because of failures in the way the trip has been planned. By implementing a framework to understand the risks such as BS 8848, providers can be more confident that they have taken the correct measures, and consumers can be better informed to understand the risks.” 

BS 8488 includes the following changes:

  • Clauses have been regrouped and consolidated to focus on key processes such as planning and risk assessment
  • A focus on the approval and review of safety management systems, including matching risk exposure to the stated aims of the venture and risk management during the venture
  • Increased information for the participant and on the participants’ responsibilities in safety management
  • Increased applicability of the standard for individual placements and lone workers
  • The inclusion of competence assessment criteria for venture activity specialists where participants are under 18 years old and unaccompanied by their parent or legal guardian
  • Revisions to the clauses on venture continuity and supervision have resulted in the definitions of “down time” and “personal time” being redundant
  • Streamlining of the clauses on claims of conformity

BS 8848 was developed collaboratively using the expert knowledge of such organizations as Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, ABTA - The Travel Association, British Activity Holiday Association, Expedition Providers Association, Consumer and Public Interest Network, Imperial College London, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), TUI Travel plc, USHA Universities Safety and Health Association, Young Explorers Trust.