Guiding Principles - Awareness

Ensure that your visitors know the risks they face

Our aim is for visitors to be aware of all the risks they face and to have the chance to decide whether or not to accept them. There should be no nasty surprises. Visitors may arrive with full knowledge of all the risks. Sometimes the risks are apparent on arrival at a site. In other cases, information about risk might be provided on signs at car parks or access points.

It is reasonable to expect visitors to recognise the hazards from natural features in the landscape, such as cliffs. Once the visitor is aware of the nature of the risk, for example an unfenced drop, he or she can then decide whether to accept it and go near the edge. You may, however, need to warn of less obvious hazards. For example the cliff edge and potential drop might be obvious, but the visitor might need to be made aware if the cliff edge was undercut or unstable.

Usually it is reasonable for you to expect people to be aware of the normal risks associated with the sports and activities they are carrying out. You may, however, need to inform users of additional hazards specific to the site. For example, a sub aqua diver should have knowledge of the normal risks of the sport, but should be made aware of less obvious hazards, say from sluices, if diving in a reservoir.

Inform and educate your visitors about the nature and extent of hazards, the risk control measures in place, and the precautions that they should take

You can often manage and reduce risk through information and education rather than by physical intervention on site. High risk groups can be targeted. Children might be informed through schools. Participants in sport and recreation may be contacted through event organisers, governing bodies and local user groups, and by information issued with licences, tickets or permits. Stickers or leaflets can be applied to bikes, canoes, boats, fishing tackle, outdoor equipment and the like prior to hire or sale.

Consider providing advice on websites, social networking media and in places like tourist information centres, climbing shops, and holiday accommodation, as well as at the site itself. The Internet, local radio and telephone message lines can be used to give up to date information; for example on weather conditions in mountain and coastal areas. Signs can be erected in car parks, stations and at other main access points.

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