Safety Audit Standard for Adventure Activities

15 Mar 13

On 14 March the Government released the new safety audit standard for adventure activity operators. Under the Health and Safety in Employment (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2011 affected operators must comply with the audit standard and register with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Who the Safety Audit Standard Applies to
The standard applies to adventure tourism or outdoor education operators who provide, for payment, activities that are designed to deliberately expose participants to a risk of serious harm that must be managed by the provider of the activity. Operators that fall in this category will need to undergo a safety audit, with an approved auditor, to comply. 

The only exemption to this requirement is if an operator has notified the Ministry of its operations by 31 December 2012 and passed a safety audit from an auditor on the Ministry’s list of transitional auditors before 15 February 2013.  In these circumstances operators do not need to undergo a safety audit while their existing certificate remains current. 

The Safety Audit Standard
The safety audit standard sets out the requirements for an operator’s safety management system (SMS), which are:

  • leadership and management
  • hazard management
  • standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • emergency preparedness and response plans
  • incident management
  • document control
  • continual improvement.

 Each of the above requirements comprises several detailed elements which must be satisfied to pass the safety audit. Full details of these can be found at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

The audit will be carried out by a safety auditor approved by the Ministry, engaged directly by the operator.

Effect of Safety Audit
If the operator passes the safety audit, it will be issued a safety audit certificate, valid for a period specified by the auditor up to a maximum of three years. All operators must obtain a safety audit certificate and be registered by 1 November 2014[1], or earlier, if required to do so by the Ministry. Any operator who fails to do so, but continues to provide adventure activities, will be committing an offence under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 which carries a fine of up to $250,000. 

How We Can Help
The above is a very broad overview of the requirements and effect of the Regulations and the new safety audit standard. If you have any questions, including whether the Regulations apply to you or your business and how to comply with them, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Further information can be found here and also at the Adventure Tourism and Outdoor Commercial Sector website

Prepared by Nic Soper, Maree Baker-Galloway and Katy Baxter.

[1] It is important to note that “registration” is different from “notification”: all operators were required to notify the Ministry of their operation by 30 April 2012.