Tourism sec­tor gets new safety app

Two Cromwell-based soft­ware de­vel­op­ers be­lieve they will save lives with a new cloud-based app for ad­ven­ture tourism op­er­a­tors who have to com­ply with new ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties reg­u­la­tions be­fore Novem­ber 1. JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN re­ports.

Central Otago Mirror - - CENTRAL NEWS -

It was on for­mer Queen­stown po­lice of­fi­cer Dun­can Faulkner’s first day of work that he saw a river board and wet suit sit­ting in the de­tain prop­erty store at the po­lice sta­tion.

The prop­erty be­longed to Bri­tish back­packer Emily Jor­dan who died while river board­ing in Queen­stown in 2008.

The 21-year-old, from Worces­ter­shire, drowned when she be­came wedged un­der a rock while river board­ing with Mad Dog River Board­ing. The com­pany failed to carry any ropes and was fined $66,000.

Her death, among oth­ers, sparked an ad­ven­ture safety tourism re­view on the in­struc­tion of Prime Min­is­ter John Key. Key called for a cross-de­part­men­tal group in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in­clud­ing the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity, Mar­itime New Zealand, Min­istry of Tourism and the Tourism In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion.

As a na­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive white­wa­ter kayaker, Faulkner had an in­ter­est in ad­ven­ture tourism and af­ter leav­ing the po­lice in 2010 to be­come a he­li­copter pilot, his thoughts turned back to Jor­dan.

Faulkner and his em­ployer, Ben Sar­gin­son, were forced to sit down and build a safety man­age­ment sys­tem – the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, along with tourism ad­ven­ture and other in­dus­tries were all sub­ject to a man­age­ment safety re­view.

‘‘We spent three months bang­ing our heads against excel spread­sheets, Google drives . . . we had all this in­for­ma­tion spread across dif­fer­ent plat­forms.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing from staff train­ing to car­ry­ing out in­spec­tions on safety gear. It was re­ally hard to pro­duce (a safety man­age­ment sys­tem) but we had it au­dited and passed. It dawned on me – how can the govern­ment ex­pect in­dus­tries to build this them­selves?

‘‘There is no-one say­ing, ‘here are the tools to help you with it’.

‘‘Now, we are four months away from dead­line and peo­ple are say­ing, ‘I don’t know how to do this’. I don’t think the govern­ment re­alised how big an ask it was.’’

With no soft­ware on the mar­ket easy to use, Faulkner and Cromwell soft­ware de­vel­oper Brian Gra­ham built a pro­gram that took away the health and safety jar­gon, and con­fus­ing words, and formed the com­pany Au­, he said. The com­pany, hav­ing re­leased the soft­ware about three weeks ago, was al­ready at­tract­ing busi­nesses big and small, in­clud­ing NZ Ski, South­ern Dis­cov­er­ies and Urwin and Co, he said.

An at­trac­tive facet of the soft­ware was that it was not re­stricted to tourism ad­ven­ture – it could be cus­tomised to all in­dus­tries, he said.

It also pro­vided a plat­form where busi­nesses, safety ad­vis­ers and au­di­tors could log into the same stan­dard­ised sys­tem, from mul­ti­ple de­vices.

‘‘Our mis­sion is to have a mul­ti­a­gency ap­proach to re­duce tragedies in the work­place. The end game is to re­duce tragedies by em­pow­er­ing op­er­a­tors to man­age their safety bet­ter and give them the tools. Every­one wants to be safer, they just of­ten put it in the too-hard bas­ket.

‘‘Emily’s death was when I first be­came aware the ad­ven­ture in­dus­try had this prob­lem and the same prob­lem was in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try. It’s across ev­ery in­dus­try and it is huge.’’ Work­safe pro­gramme direc­tor Stu­art White said the Govern­ment had been do­ing ev­ery­thing it could to help the sec­tor get au­dited and reg­is­tered un­der the new Ad­ven­ture Ac­tiv­i­ties Reg­u­la­tions Act.

‘‘This has been com­ing since 2011. Op­er­a­tors have been given plenty of warn­ing and sup­port.

‘‘Come Novem­ber 1, Work­Safe in­spec­tors are go­ing to be out in force and any­one who isn’t reg­is­tered and is still op­er­at­ing can ex­pect en­force­ment ac­tion.’’

Ad­ven­ture tourism was ‘‘high risk’’ and op­er­a­tors had a duty to pro­tect those par­tic­i­pat­ing in ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties.

‘‘The re­quire­ment to be reg­is­tered, which means that op­er­a­tors must first pass an in­de­pen­dent safety au­dit, is help­ing to lift pro­fes­sion­al­ism and will im­prove safety across the sec­tor,’’ White said.


Safety first: Co­founder and direc­tor of re­mark­able safety soft­ware com­pany Au­, Dun­can Faulkner, with Au­rum He­li­copters owner Ben Sar­gin­son.

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