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.
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 Auditz.io, 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 Auditz.io, Duncan Faulkner, with Aurum Helicopters owner Ben Sarginson.