Changes to Adventure Activities Regulations

5 October 2022

Last week Cabinet confirmed policy decisions on changes to the Adventure Activities regime, the changes were announced over the weekend. On the surface, the changes don’t really deviate from those signalled by proposals made by MBIE during the 2021 consultation. They include:

  • Specific requirements for how operators must assess and manage natural hazard risks
  • Beefing-up requirements for operators to communicate risks to activity participants
  • Changes to operator registration and notification requirements
  • Reviewing and updating adventure activity safety guidance

These changes will involve amendments to the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016, and updates to the Adventure Activities Safety Audit Standard and guidance materials published by WorkSafe.

Sam and Kieran meet with WorkSafe this week and have received further detailed information from MBIE on each of the change areas.

Introducing specific requirements for how adventure activity operators must assess and manage natural hazard risks

WorkSafe will add a section to the Safety Audit Standard on assessing and managing the risks associated with natural hazards. They will also review the Standard more broadly and will publish guidance material on good practice management of natural hazard risks.

Strengthening requirements for operators to communicate risks to activity participants

A duty will be introduced in the Regulations which will require operators to have processes in place to communicate the risks associated with an activity, this will lift risk communication duties to the level of regulation. If operators do not meet this requirement, they will be fined.

Linked changes will be made to the Audit Standard and guidance materials. These updates will provide details on good practice for risk communication and the information that should be given to participants.

Stronger operator registration and notification requirements

These changes are:

  • Requiring adventure activity operators to register directly with WorkSafe (rather than via their auditor) and adjustments to the information they have to provide.
  • Expanding the circumstances under which WorkSafe can refuse, suspend, cancel, or add conditions to operator registrations, where serious safety concerns arise.
  • Providing WorkSafe the power to temporarily suspend an operator’s registration while the operator is under investigation.
  • Introducing a list of sector-specific “notifiable incidents”, which operators must inform WorkSafe of when they occur. These will reflect near miss incidents from major risks in the sector (the details of what specific incidents will be notifiable will be consulted on in the coming months).

Reviewing and updating adventure activity safety guidance

WorkSafe will, over the next two years, review and add to the package of activity safety guidelines.

Proposals consulted on but not progressed

  • Introducing specific regulatory requirements for landowners/managers
  • Introducing a risk classification system.

Next steps

MBIE will release a consultation draft of the changes later this year. This will allow interested parties to comment on the regulations wording, and other areas like the types of notifiable incidents and the fine amount for breaching the risk communication duty. Recreation Aotearoa will submit on that consultation, so please get in touch with Sam to discuss your perspective.

WorkSafe will also begin reviewing the Safety Audit Standard and guidance materials. These are things that WorkSafe have discussed and consulted with Recreation Aotearoa on throughout the year.

It's interesting to note that the Minister's press release contextualises these changes within the Adventure Tourism industry and the Whakaari/White Island tragedy. It is pleasing to see that he commented: “Most adventure activity operators are already following good practice and will only need to make minor adjustments to their safety systems.” It also gives Recreation Aotearoa and our members an opportunity to hold him against these words: “… these changes are targeted towards the areas the sector has told us will make the most practical difference for safety, while avoiding significant new costs or restricting access to activities.” As we know that ANY new costs would be burdensome.

For more information please contact

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