* You want people to make sure to get stupid stuff right. – Atul Gawande in ‘Checklist Manifesto’ *

Times, they are a’changing! Most definitely in India and perhaps in many parts of the world. And no I am not talking of COVID 19 and the new normal. I am referring to something that I find to be very positive, encouraging and fulfilling when I get involved.

Take this current assignment I am working on: creating a set of documents for safety in operations for work at height being done for slope stabilisation. This assignment came my way after a few other assignments related to ‘documentation’, some of it voluntary work and some that earned me my bread.

Safety for work-at-height and industrial safety are established fields and have requisite standards, guidelines, trainings and of course people to execute required safety measures. So what’s the connection between documentation and a person like me who essentially comes from the world of adventure and outdoor education?

I think the difference and significance lies in outdoor settings, remoteness of locations, equipment different from the usual, and response to emergency that has unique aspects to those locations. And what people like me bring into the picture is experience form the world of AES – Adventure Enabled Services (I don’t know if that term is being used elsewhere or is appropriate to describe services that ‘use’ adventure related aspects in non-adventure fields).

Like me, there are others involved in this exciting change that involves individuals, organisations and government bodies in India, moving towards enhanced safety and excellence in outdoor activities. What I state below is but a glimpse of this change, and I write the following with a sense of great belonging with all entities that are ushering in this change.

The experience that I have is from some fun assignments in the past. It started with designing adventure sequences for entertainment events, TV channels, product launches and ad-films. This was followed by documentation work for a specific operation at building construction sites and for adventure activity services being offered by a chain of resorts.

I soon got involved in writing safety guidelines for adventure activities along with a bunch of friends, a ‘project’ that has culminated in some of us forming a non-profit with one of the aims being liaison with our state government on the subject of safety and regulation.

But I am really proud of one assignment where I contributed significantly: the first and till date only accreditation in India of an outdoor education centre with the Association of Experiential Education, U.S.A.

Elsewhere: safety guidelines brought out by Adventure Tour Operators Association of India have been acknowledged by the Ministry of Tourism; one state government has come out with a ‘Government Regulation’ for adventure activities while other state governments are working on similar regulations; the first certification of an Indian company against IS Standard 21101 for adventure tourism has happened…

All very exciting, and it is a rare privilege to be a part of it…

Yes, times, they are a’changing, and how!

Through this all, one thing I feel compelled to mention. Learning complexities of documentation, though exciting, has been a struggle, which continues today for it is a strange world filled with nuances and profundity in the written word. I could not have done my bit without the tremendous understanding and support of safety officers, business unit heads and top honchos as I revised versions or missed successive deadlines or, plain and simple, made mistakes. Safety is a team effort, and all lines between different entities have to break down if something good for our health and safety has to evolve. That is what I learnt from these kind hearted people.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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