18 February 2009

BSI British Standards announces the update and reissue of its popular standard for providers of adventurous activities abroad. BS 8848: 2007 + A1:2009 Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities, outside the United Kingdom has been updated to reflect the experience of existing users and to ensure that organized adventurous ventures abroad can be as safe as possible.

The British Standard, originally published in April 2007, was developed in response to increased calls to make overseas adventure activities safer. Aimed at expedition and field trip organizers, gap year travel companies and providers of adventurous holidays, it specifies requirements that have to be met by an organizer of adventurous trips conforming to best practice.

The BSI British Standards committee responsible for BS 8848 has considered comments from those who have used the standard during its first two years. As a result, several amendments have been made to the document, clarifying certain aspects and ensuring it continues to be fit for purpose. Most significantly, a self-declaration checklist has been added to the standard which will enable organizations to carry out a thorough audit of their processes, mitigating risk wherever possible, and communicating this to customers.

A standard for adventurous venture providers was originally proposed to BSI by Peter Eisenegger, whose daughter Claire died of heat stroke on a gap year expedition in 1999. Wider consumer concerns about the risks associated with adventurous holidays, fieldwork, expeditions and other visits also demonstrated the need for a standard in this area. BSI British Standards brought together expertise from industry, academia and non-governmental organizations to create a consensus standard which has proved very popular.

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, said: “We’re really pleased with the uptake of BS 8848 since it was published two years ago. It demonstrates that the standard addressed a need and now provides a best practice benchmark. All comments from organizations already using the standard have been carefully considered by the BSI committee responsible for BS 8848. The resulting amended version of the standard will enable users to further refine their activities.”

John Adams, Chairman of the BSI committee responsible for BS 8848, said: “A transparent and safe system for conducting overseas ventures is necessary so that participants are exposed to dangers without actually coming to harm. BS 8848 has been developed to meet that need, potentially saving lives. For the adventure provider, BS 8848 offers guidance on every aspect of the venture and for those looking for adventure, it offers them reassurance that their travel is organized by a responsible provider.”

BSI British Standards, in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society, is holding a conference on the amended BS 8848 in London on 17-18 March 2009. This will include case studies from organizations that have implemented BS 8848 as well as an introduction to the standard’s content and certification options.