Risk Management

Fear of injuries and lawsuits has made landowners reluctant to allow recreation on their property and has sometimes made government agencies wary of climbing. One of the first things people want to know is: “Will I be held liable if someone gets hurt while climbing on my property?”

When evaluating recreational activities that are perceived to involve an unusual degree of exposure to risk, risk management can become an issue of heightened concern. In an age when outdoor activities have been overly sensationalized by the media, the perception of risk associated with these activities is often overstated and misunderstood. On occasion some agencies consider restricting or even prohibiting activities like climbing under the false pretense that by doing so, they’re reducing their exposure to liability or engaging in effective risk management.

Be ready to discuss this issue. Know the legislation in your country and examples elsewhere. Keep in mind that an Access Fund research found no record of any legal action having been filed in the US in which an injured climber sued a landowner or an agency on the basis of premises liability. In Brazil, no similar actions were found.

Risk and liability can be managed. The likelihood is that many climbing organizations already take the necessary precautions to manage risk. A Risk Management Plan is just the systemization of these practices, moreover it helps to prevent injuries, negotiate access and improve your defensibility in the court of law (and in the court of public opinion), it may even shut down lawsuits before they start. The two most basic goals of a Risk Management Plan should be to manage the risks on the climbing area and minimize the losses from lawsuits.

Check out these Access Fund Documents:
Risk Management for Climbing
Risk Management for Climbing in Private Land

See Climbing Management Plan for possibilities of combining these two plans into one document. Remember to understand the context and apply whatever tools and resources accordingly.