Inadequate risk assessment has been highlighted as a contributing factor in the deaths of several children participating on school outdoor education programs. Further, whilst the systems thinking approach to accident prevention is now prevalent in this domain, the extent to which schools consider the overall led outdoor system during risk assessment processes is not clear. The aim of this study was to determine whether the systems thinking perspective has been translated into risk assessments for outdoor programs. Four school outdoor education risk assessments were analysed and Rasmussen’s (1997) Risk Management framework was used to map the hazards and actors identified in the risk assessments. The results showed that the hazards and actors identified reside across the lower levels of the Accimap framework, suggesting a primary focus on the immediate context of the delivery of the activity. In short, from a systems perspective, not all of the potential hazards were identified and assessed. This suggests that current risk assessment practice is not consistent with contemporary models of accident causation, and further, key risks could currently be overlooked. The need for the development of a systems theory based risk assessment process is discussed.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015