Southland Tramping Club (Inc.)  

Safety Management Guide

                                                                                                                                          January 2019


The Southland Tramping Club (STC) is involved in a range of tramping, walking, cycling, kayaking, track maintenance, conservation work, and other outdoor activities.  For many of us this provides a balance to our daily lives, allowing us to experience and enjoy the outdoors and natural environments.  In these activities we must pool our collective experiences and knowledge, take full responsibility for our own safety, and especially apply a great deal of common sense.  This document provides information on our safety policies and procedures that have evolved over many decades of club activities, as a means to ensure that all trip leaders have a firm base from which to determine what is most appropriate for their next trip.  For feedback on this Safety Management Guide, please discuss with a committee member or send an email to the President via STC website.  Your safety is your responsibility.


Event – Hazard – Near Miss – Incident

Hazard – Actual or potential source of harm.  These are everywhere in our activities – injuries from stones, roots, vegetation, equipment, etc and can occur anytime, anywhere.  For the purpose of our safety policy a hazard is an obstruction or difficulty that could lead to significant injury or disruption for which the party needs to determine how to responds to – so includes adverse weather conditions, rivers, slips, treefalls, the onset of nightfall before a trip finishes, inability of a party member to continue, etc.

Near Miss – A potentially serious incident was only just avoided, either by good luck or through good management for that member to continue with the activity.

Incident – A party member has suffered a serious injury or other problem making it difficult or impossible for that member to continue with the activity.

Safety Policy

The STC is committed to ensuring that all our activities are run in a manner that acknowledges the Hazards that exist for the activity.

Responsibility for safety lies with all party members, under the guidance of the trip leader and the experienced party members.  This includes:-

  • Being personally aware of hazards
  • Ensuring that all party members are aware of hazards
  • Ensuring that all concerns are communicated to the Trip Leader
  • Negotiating hazards by appropriate collective group behaviour
  • Ensuring all events are reported to the STC Committee

The STC Committee is committed to ensuring that there is open discussion of safety concerns, and that events are reviewed to determine future mitigating actions.

Trip Preparation

The STC Committee has prepared a Trip Leaders Check List to assist new/experienced leaders to be consistent with trip preparation.  There needs to be an awareness of members who have limited capabilities and ensure they are on suitable trips, so they do not put themselves and other participants at risk.  The Trip Leader/Club Captain/President has the right of refusal to take a participant on a particular trip.

Safety Plan

At the start of each day/trip the Trip Leader will hold a briefing for the group:-

  • The Leader will check participants “Duty of Care” forms
  • The Trip Leader will identify any known hazards and how they will be addressed
  • The Trip Leader will identify who is carrying the PLB and First Aid Kit.
  • Party members will identify any additional hazards, with discussion on how they will be addressed
  • The Trip Leader reaffirms the rule that the party must work together on any unexpected hazards to ensure the safety of all party members.

Should an event occur, the Trip Leader will conduct a debrief with the group as quickly as possible afterwards.

Safety Target

  • No Near Missed
  • No Incidents
  • Should an incident occur, this is advised to the STC Club Captain within one week.

Event Debrief

Key elements of a debrief and concise report:-

  • Date of the event
  • Party objectives and activities before the event
  • Description of the event
  • Actions taken to address the consequences
  • Improvement recommendations for the future
  • Effective actions taken that should be included with the report


When an event is advised to STC Club Captain:-

  • The Club Captain determines who will prepare the Incident Report

(Generally this will be the Trip Leader in consultation with Club Captain)

  • If this was an Incident, the Club Captain immediately sends an email to the committee for feedback, so that a final version can be ready for discussion for the next STC Committee meeting

At the STC Committee meeting, the recommendations of the report will be reviewed, and discussion taken on how to proceed.

A summary of the actions agreed will be appended to the report, with this being retain with the minutes that are provided to Committee members.

Information and Education

It is important that STC members and visitors on our trips can be informed of our safety management policy.  This STC Safety Management Guide is available on our website.

For each incident the Committee will decide if it is appropriate to publish to all members for their own safety and the prevention of future incidents.


A key item of the legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.  This has a key applicability level of identifying whether or not an organisation is a Person Conducting a Business Undertaking (PCBU).

A key determination of being classified as a PCBU for a volunteer managed organisation is whether the organisation is volunteer run only, or whether it has paid employees.  The STC does not have any paid employees, so the currently accepted interpretation is that we are not a PCBU.  As a result, while we have a duty of care in all our activities, a significant part of this legislation does not apply to us.





Person unfit

Tired, slow, other members getting cold

Ascertain fitness prior to trip

Manage speed to prevent exhaustion.

Have adequate rest stops

Lighten their load

Inadequate gear

Could cause trip to be altered

Or cancelled

Ensure person has gear list

Use club gear

Borrow gear

Wet Weather

Person get cold and wet

Gear gets wet

Ensure correct gear

Gear packed in waterproof bags

Use spare set clothing

River Crossing

Person get cold and wet

Gear gets wet

Person swept away

Remove from river and get into dry clothing

Downstream catcher in place

Fire lighting and cooking


Ensure safety and have adequate first aid to hand

Trip Hazards

Person trips or falls

Ascertain injury and appropriate care

Administer First Aid

Injury – stings, sunburn, impaired health

Person is unwell

Carry first aid kit

Ensure everyone has own first aid

Check “Duty of Care” form

Carry PLB

Party Loses Person

Person gets lost

Party sticks together and formulates a plan.  Check if lost person has PLB and has activated it.  If not assume they are OK.

Lost Person

Person can’t find rest of party

Stay Put, Blow Whistle, call out, light a fire

Make a shelter

1. As with all outdoor activity, there is associated risk. Your safety is your responsibility.  It is up to you to ensure you have the correct equipment and are fit and able to undertake the planned trip.

2. While each member has responsibility for their own preparedness and safety, you will be expected to follow the advice of your trip leader. The trip leader has the right to tell people the trip is unsuitable for them due to insufficient gear, lack of experience or fitness, known issues, or non-adherence to the club guidelines.

3. A "track" may be a paved, stepped path, or a poorly defined route. Expect to encounter a variety of conditions from hilly terrain, muddy tracks with tree roots and other obstacles, to unbridged river crossings and complete "bushbashes". 

4. In the event of a possible emergency, the trip leader will consider all opinions and make the final call as to how to proceed, using the skills of the team.  Every effort will be made to resolve the situation, but the outcome cannot be guaranteed and there may be no absolute right or wrong way to handle the event. Find out how you can help - be calm, contribute ideas, listen to others, and give the leader time to think. Help look after everyone in the party with shelter, food, drink, stress management.

5. You must advise the trip leader of any medical conditions that could be a problem on the trip. You are responsible for any medications you may require.

6.  Anticipate unexpected changes in weather conditions; apply the scout's motto "Be Prepared", by bringing rain gear, plenty of fluids and warm clothing. The weather we see at home may not be the same as that where we will be walking that day.  Conditions can change very rapidly in the NZ outdoor environment, even on sunny days.

7.  Always fill in trip list with emergency contact person.  Not all tramps run according to plan, problems can arise and getting home late is inevitable at some time or another.

8.  Walk at a comfortable but steady pace, ensuring you have energy in reserve. Stop at track junctions to wait for others to catch up and to ensure no one has taken a wrong turn. If you are new to the club or are uncertain of the direction, stay with the group and maintain voice contact. On less well marked tracks, the group should walk together.  Tell someone if you need to stop or leave the track for a toilet stop or any other reason, leaving your pack on the track.

9. In the event of becoming "Geographically Embarrassed", stay where you are. Blow your whistle if you have one. As for all emergencies, follow the STOP principle:

  • STOP take a breath, sit down and remain calm
  • THINK, look around you, listen, brainstorm options
  • OBSERVE what is around you, evaluate the possible consequences
  • PLAN what to do, what is necessary to keep alive, then act. Water, shelter, warmth and the will to survive are the essential elements to your survival, but if in doubt STAY PUT.

10. Be aware of rivers. IF IN DOUBT DO NOT CROSS.

11. Leaders should carry a personal locator beacon and first aid kit and nominate a "tail end Charlie". Each member should also carry some of their first aid kit and own safety equipment.

12. If you are new to tramping in NZ or haven’t been tramping for awhile, you should develop your fitness and be conservative on which tramp you chose to join. 

13. Advise the leader if you are not comfortable with any aspect of the trip, to prevent small problems from becoming big problems.

14. It is important not to turn walking into an EGO TRIP! Getting there is most of the fun. Walking flat out and arriving worn out, is not what it's about.

15. Enjoy nature’s moods, as not all tramps fall on bright, sunny days. Without rain and winds we would not be able to appreciate swirling fogs, mist covered mountains, shimmering sandstones and blooming wildflowers. Don't miss out on the opportunity for walking in the rain; sometimes the most spectacular and memorable tramps are wet ones.

16. At all times respect and care for the environment and follow the advice of your leader in this regard.

17. Learn about the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and hypothermia and what to do to prevent it.

Wilderness and the bush are environments we come to as visitors. It is nature's domain and potential dangers exist. But with adequate preparation and care, we will be able to................

"We take nothing but photographs – We leave nothing but footprints!"