Safety Issues: who is to blame?

by Amy Dalton

A few weeks ago we posted on Facebook a Nelson Mail article about a driftwood beach hut being fenced off by the Nelson City Council because of perceived safety issues.  It caused a huge furore, not only from our supporters but all around the country.   Comments such as “Definitely red tape gone too far” and “Health and safety gone mad” were some of the milder posts.

The general thread of the comments was, the Council were being over the top with their attitude to what is risky by choosing to class a driftwood hut built on the beach as a hazard.

However, the culture around safety issues in which workplaces, communities, government, now operates has shifted.  An insidious attitude of blame has begun to creep in – there must be accountability, there must be responsibility, blame must be apportioned, someone needs to pay.  (For a while it seemed like the Government was somehow to blame for the Christchurch earthquake, but that’s a whole other post)

So, while the Council worker who rolled out the orange fencing and sectioned off a small driftwood hut on the beach, may have felt like an idiot (with the great ocean running right alongside; open and accessible).  They may have also been thinking, if on the complete off chance a kid gets hit by a falling piece of wood.  I don’t want to be the person that gets attacked by a parent who cannot accept it might have been an accident.

At Whenua Iti Outdoors, we care about safety issues;

It is foundation upon which all our courses are based.  We manage the risk in a hundred different ways, many of which you will never ever see, to ensure the participants have an authentic and complete learning experience.  To ensure that the important lessons around good choices, consequences, personal accountability and responsibility are learnt.  To teach the difference between the things we can control and things we cannot.

If we rail against being told what to do, and if we demand the freedom to choose, we then must also be aware and take responsibility for our own actions.  Should we choose to take risks then we must be accountable for our own outcomes and then perhaps, we won’t keep getting told what we can and can’t do.

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