Expedition Risk Management

Expeditions are inherently risky it’s part of their appeal and they would not be attractive to pursue if they were not. Nature Expeditions conducts expeditions that are full of inherent risks due to their geographical location, the type of travelling, and the activities undertaken. By joining one of my expeditions you are accepting these risks. This page outlines the Nature Expeditions’ approach to risk management. In short, I identify hazards, minimise the likelihood of anything happening in the first place and then reduce the consequences if it does.

My approach to risk management has evolved from my time serving in the British military, where high-risk activities take place on a routine basis. It has also evolved from my considerable experience in managing high threats and risks from my 30 years of international travel around the world, where a constant and dynamic evaluation and re-evaluation of risk is critical to success. Nature Expeditions is an ATTA accredited adventure travel company and conforms to the British Standard for adventurous activities outside the United Kingdom (BS 8848) to underlie its risk management policy. I hold the Royal Geographical Society’s Off-Site Safety Management certification, and possess the full, and current ITC SQA accreditation certificate in outdoor first aid, which I must renew and update every three years. This solid background gives Nature Expeditions the confidence to analyse risk in detail and to conduct expeditions that others may not wish to or be capable of delivering to this high standard.

I have a three-stage approach to risk

1. Assess

Nature Expeditions carries out a full threat and risk assessment prior to each expedition. I identify potential threats and hazards and put measures in place to reduce the likelihood of these occurring and the severity if they do occur. This reduces the risks as far as reasonably possible given the locations we go to and the activities we conduct. At this stage we accept some risks as inherent to what we do and it is the responsibility of team members planning to join our expeditions to decide if they are happy to accept these risks too.

2. Plan

The essential next step after the above risk assessment stage is to develop a plan to put in place the mitigation measures identified. Nature Expeditions includes the following in its consideration of and planning for any expedition or project.

  • A detailed expedition plan.
  • A detailed medical plan for all stages of the expedition, including facilities and assets in country, extraction plans and reaction times.
  • An expedition first aider and comprehensive expedition first aid kit.
  • A detailed communication plan (I always carry a form of satellite communication).
  • Registration with local helicopter rescue services (in countries where this is possible).
  • Thorough briefing on risks and risk mitigation measures.
  • Training if required.

3. Deliver

Our expedition leaders are highly experienced and responsible for the dynamic risk management on the expedition; that is to say: they implement the plan. In the unlikely event of an incident or emergency, we have pre-written and practised contingency, incident and emergency and communication plans that are immediately put into place in order to resolve the specific situation. The key to this is the pre-planning that has gone into this so our procedures can be enacted swiftly.

Informed consent

Many people travel with Nature Expeditions because they feel that we have taken a comprehensive approach to risk assessment, risk mitigation and risk management. If you have any questions about the Nature Expeditions’ approach, contact me. Risk assessments, mitigation techniques, comprehensive planning and highly experienced leaders do not ‘make expeditions safe’. Expeditions are inherently risky endeavours and it is the responsibility of each team member to decide whether they want to accept the risks as outlined, in joining an expedition team. It is up to each team member to research and take out a suitable (and compulsory) insurance policy for the duration of their expedition. They will not be permitted to participate without insurance!

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