- Create a Safe Operations Plan that identifies potential risks, identifies safety policies and procedures to mitigate risks, describes program equipment and maintenance schedules, and addresses other aspects of safety of your operations.
- Involve your community, guardian crew, and experts in developing your Safe Operations Plan to ensure it accurately reflects the specific risks associated with your program activities and local conditions.
- Create easy to read and use documents that outline safety policies and procedures. These should be easy to understand and follow and always available to staff to reference.
- Make sure staff are well trained in what to do when unsafe conditions or circumstances arise. Support them by regularly briefing them, testing their knowledge, or running through mock scenarios. Ensure staff in the office also know what to do should a distress call come in or crews not return on schedule.
- Make equipment inspection and maintenance a routine part of your program. Set regular times for inspection, gear checks, maintenance, asset reporting, etc. Building this in to work plans will ensure that field equipment, vehicles, etc. are in good working order and potential concerns are identified before a problem arises.
Resources in chapter Run a Safe Operation
Section: How can you assess risk?
- Involve guardians, other field staff, and experienced land and water users in risk management planning. They will have much to contribute toward identifying and planning for risks, and providing detailed local information (i.e. tides, terrain, weather, hazards, etc.).
- Make ‘continuous competence’ the foundation of your program - ensure that all staff are up to date with their safety and first aid certificates and knowledge and know how to use safety equipment (such as inflatables and first aid equipment, and SPOT devices).
- Ensure that staff understand the risks involved in their work and that everyone on the crew is prepared to lead under emergency conditions. All crew members must have a minimum level of competency in boat or vehicle operations and a base knowledge of how to deal with local hazards or risks on the territory.
Assessing and Managing Risks
As guardian work often happens in remote locations far from emergency assistance, it is important to assess potential risks and put in place procedures to minimize the potential damage of accidents if or when they occur.
This worksheet provides a framework (an easy to fill in table) for identifying and assessing risks associated with your Indigenous Guardian program activities. The worksheet also includes real-life examples of risks identified for different scenarios to give you an idea of what the end product of a risk assessment process looks like. Download it now
How to Identify and Assess Program Risks
Something I've learned from the Kitasoo/Xaixais elders in Klemtu is the importance of traveling on the ocean with humility. The sea changes moods quickly and with little warning. And doing the little things right is important in keeping you safe on the water: do you have the required safety equipment, spare parts, a tool kit, emergency communication devices, flares? Do you check the oil every day and do you check your belts and coolant? These small things need to become a habit and they might just save your life one day.
Something I've learned from the Kitasoo/Xaixais elders in Klemtu is the importance of travelling on the ocean with humility..."
“For our purposes, consumer grade Samsung tablets with water resistant cases were the best choice for data collection. We don't need more expensive units that are built for use in ice and snow, and this way, if something happens to the tablet, we don't have to pay a lot to replace it.”
“For our purposes, consumer grade Samsung tablets with water resistant cases were the best choice for data collection..."
Nuxalk Coastal Guardian Watchmen Small Vessel Operator Guide Policy and Procedure Manual 2017 - Nuxalk First Nation
- Responsibilities for safety and emergency response will fall on various people, including crew supervisors, managers, Band Office front desk, and other emergency contacts (such as the RCMP or other local government field personnel). Ensure that everyone understands their role, and that office staff have the authority to initiate a search in the event of distress calls from field staff.
- Make pre-season reviews and refreshers of safety and emergency protocols mandatory. Conduct mock scenarios and unplanned tests in the field to ensure staff are confident, have adequate skills and that communication systems work according to plan. Run through emergency procedures once a month (e.g., fire on board, man overboard, etc.)
- Take incidents and unacceptable employee conduct, behaviour and performance seriously. People won’t take safety seriously if there are no repercussions to their actions.
- Brief all guests and visitors accompanying your Guardians in the field on safety procedures prior to going out on patrol.