UKC

/ Why does UKC not have reports on accidents

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bedspring on 14 May 2018

The old rubbernecking debate is rumbling again https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/off_belay/fallen_climber_at_kilnsey-684682?v=1 .

The fact is though an accident is news worthy, my local rag always has pictures of car bumps, and in our community climbing accidents are news.

Who, Why, are they Ok, what caused it. If you crashed your car on the way to the crag it would be newsworthy, the spectacular the crash, the more newsworthy.

 

I wonder if in spite of BMC participation statements and the like, most climbers do not actually take on board the risks they take, a bit head in the sand.

 

Also maybe the climbing industry has a vested interest in not giving accidents much publicity.


Ps I am not impying UKC deliberatley covers stuff up.

Post edited at 16:36
baron - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Mountain rescue teams report their call outs.

Usually as a statement of what happened and who was involved (nobody gets named though) and sometimes why but not usually with any blame apportioned.

Although I have noticed the odd comment on some team's websites.

There seems to be a reluctance on the part of some to report accidents although near misses often get reported, even if it's only in the pub afterwards.

It shouldn't be too upsetting to report accidents if those involved aren't named.

The idea that such reports initially lead to speculation is true but that happens anyway.

It's not like there's hundreds of fatalities each year although fell walking seems to be quite dangerous.

 

 

Pursued by a bear - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Because people don't write them up and send them in.

And there may be good reason for that, and there's no obligation.  We do this for fun; we don't have to submit a risk assessment and there's no more reason for anyone to submit an accident report than to report a near miss.

Now, people are curious and there may be much to learn, or to re-emphasise, after someone has experienced an accident.  As it is, you're more likely to find a comment about this in the reports written by Mountain Rescue teams than on here; that may be the best place for such things.  It may be that some kind soul could have a butcher's at the websites of MRTs every quarter and post a seasonal reminder of best practice, or warning against being a statistic.

But UKC has no more obligation to do anything than anyone involved in an accident has.  

T.

4
Chris Harris - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

If I'm lying in a hospital bed with various broken bits, my first thought is unlikely to be "Must send the details to UKC". 

A similar line of thought is probably not likely from those at my bedside, either. 

1
Rob Morgan on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

I agree there should be more readily available info on climbing accidents in the UK, though sympathise with 'rubber necking' and giving out too much detail / speculation too soon arguments - but I also find that info then never seems to appear (e.g. recent Avon accident).

The American system of an annual report on climbing accidents seems to be a good one. If in the UK we released a quarterly / annual report of climbing accidents it could be a useful resource. That way info can be released in a scheduled, impartial manner. People won't need to ask on forums what happened, as we know information will eventually be released in this way.

Perhaps the BMC could compile reports from MRT / volunteers around the country?

Post edited at 17:13
1
bedspring on 14 May 2018
In reply to Rob Morgan:

 

> Perhaps the BMC could compile reports from MRT / volunteers around the country?

That would be a good thing for the BMC to do, IMO.
Still surprised that UKC as the pre eminent climbing media does not report these things more. I would have thought people would read such articles.

what the hex on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Of course rubber-neckers would read such articles, it's human nature to want to learn from other's mistakes. The last thing anyone involved in an accident wants though is media exposure and this is where reporting would become a balancing act (no pun intended).

I don't see how other people's misfortune is anyone's business than those directly involved. Just because you participate in the same sport as someone else doesn't give you the right to know the ins and outs of every incident.

There's an astronomical amount of information out there that you could use to improve your crag safety, why jeopardise your right to privacy at a time when you'd value it the most?

4
ClimberEd - on 14 May 2018
In reply to what the hex:

> Of course rubber-neckers would read such articles, it's human nature to want to learn from other's mistakes. The last thing anyone involved in an accident wants though is media exposure and this is where reporting would become a balancing act (no pun intended).

> I don't see how other people's misfortune is anyone's business than those directly involved. Just because you participate in the same sport as someone else doesn't give you the right to know the ins and outs of every incident. 

I totally disagree. Falling is part of climbing and accidents are (not always but often) part of falling.

So in this way they are very much part of the sport and it is understandable, and reasonable, that they are discussed as such. 

 

3
Offwidth - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

If the BMC did it, it wouldn't raise much revenue (hardly anyone reads these things) and its utility would be questionable (most poeple who die in preventable accidents in the UK do so from the same silly mistakes) and where some new danger is identified the BMC are quick to publicise it.

The US situation is diferent as they have big walls and alpine mountains with much higher levels of risk and many more deaths.

Hence I think It would need to be done by volunteers or be heavily sponsored. I wondered if Mick Ryan would pick this up at one stage as he was always proposing the same thing. So are you maybe voluneteering to do the work or to sponsor it?

6
Steve Clark - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Climbing shares a lot of aspects with scuba diving and particularly cave diving.

It attracts people with a technical mindset. Using gear in an intelligent way to accomplish something that would otherwise be quite dangerous. People enjoying getting in positions where normal people can’t go. Testing themselves against numbers, striving to improve and achieve more. And for some, finding new routes and meticulously recording them for the community. The pride and and accomplishment of a first ascent or new passage.

It has always been surprising to me how different accidents are thought about in the two sports.

In cave diving, an accident is like a plane crash. The stakes are high. The rules are clear. Everyone wants to know which rule was broken. They want to find out how they can avoid it happening to them too. This post incident analysis started properly in the 1970s. It generated a set of rules to avoid common mistakes. It reduced world wide cave diving accidents from multiple dozens per year down to less than a handful. A tiny percentage of accidents actually occur to people following all the rules.

I think climbing misses some of the advantages of this analysis. I only know of a few accidents that have been properly analysed or even just spread as folklore (some guy standing backwards into a sling dangling off his harness and falling off a crag. That young sport climbing kid killed by his quick-draws. Lynn hill half-tied knot. People lowering of the end of a sport rope. Etc).

I know that if there was an accident in a climbing club, then everyone would know what happened pretty quickly just by rumour. If it was a mistake then those members will be unlikely to repeat it. The rest of the climbing community doesn’t benefit. Something with the potential to kill a climber probably happens everyday in the UK. The people involved give themselves a talking to and that’s it.

(In practical terms, a major cave diving Internet forum restricts access to the ‘accident analysis’ forum to established members with a proper posting history. There is a ‘memorial forum’ which is where the journalists, family and non-diving friends end up.)

1
Offwidth - on 14 May 2018
In reply to Steve Clark:

Cave Diving is more similar to Himalayan Mountaineering in death rates than ordinary cragging. Back to diving which is more simlar in risk levels I used to go to Stoney Cove as a kid and then and seemingly continuing there for a good while afterwards there seemed to be a death a year. Maybe you can point to where proper analysis of all these deaths has caused the community to learn to prevent things like this: 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Cronin-2016-0332.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjH0Mi-8oXbAhXLKcAKHceDAIM4ChAWMAB6BAgHEAE&usg=AOvVaw2jyc09OO2_ei0lMlj5baBe

2
Misha - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Good question with no clear answer. The BMC should do it really but they probably don't have the resources and perhaps don't have the inclination. As has been pointed out, in other sports there is detailed reporting / investigation - why should climbing be different? Clearly it wouldn't be practical to invested every sprained ankle or even broken leg but any fatality or serious accident should be investigated so that people could learn from other people's mistakes. I believe the American Alpine Club do an annual report for serious accidents.

petecallaghan - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

I'm one of a small group of climbers working with the BMC to plan an incident reporting system. 

It's at a very early stage and not yet a BMC project, though I'm hoping the BMC will help take it forward.

You can learn a bit more about where we are with this project here: https://wpetecallaghan.wixsite.com/incidentreportstrial/blog

 

Steve Clark - on 14 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Cave diving (fatal) incident rate is about 1 in 3000 dives. It is weighted towards people in the 30-100 dive experience range. Enough dives to know how to get complacent, not enough to have learnt from experience.

I don’t know a lot about high altitude mountaineering, but I imagine for 8000m peaks the fatal rate is in the 1  in 100 range and closer to 1 in 10 for K2.

As for dive analysis, an almost identical incident to that Stoney free-flow occurred last month. Two simultatuous free flows, by two divers in a team of 4. All made a safe ascent and survived. How do I know this? The instructor posted about the near-miss incident on an Internet forum, deliberately promoting discussion of his actions and seeing if anything could be learnt from the incident. Someone with particular knowledge of the (relatively rare) Oceanic Alpha 8 regulators used noticed they were only designed for use above 10degC. It was 4degC at 30m. 

The discussion is on-going, but already something useful is known. There may be other clubs/schools thinking twice about using these regs in cold water.

There are lots of other examples. Our university dive club stopped teaching trainees in the sea in semi-drysuits after another uni club instructor died in Brixham from thermal shock after using a ill-fitting (baggy) semi-dry suit because that was all that was available to use on the day. 

 

Rob Morgan on 14 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

I have changed my climbing behaviour by reading incident reports. Sometimes it is simply a reminder of best practise, sometimes a slightly unusual situation which you may find yourself in. So you can learn from incident analysis.

Paz - on 14 May 2018

It's a great idea in principle but I don't think it would ultimately be very useful or popular.

Whoever is hosting the data has to be careful they're not liable for libel, and the write ups will have to be very careful not to imply human error or equipment failure, without proof.  So the write ups will inevitably have to adopt a wishy washy impartial blame-free style of writing, (like court case journalism) to pass moderation, and very little useful information about best practice that we can earn from the accident will be gained.

 

Post edited at 22:07
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Chris H - on 14 May 2018
In reply to Steve Clark:

The British Cave Diving Group has its own incident reporting here http://cavedivinggroup.org.uk/cave-diving-incident-reporting/ which anyone can view and there has always been a culture of being very open and honest about mistakes so others can learn from them.

1
Donny M - on 14 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

About a year ago, in my first year of outdoor climbing I witnessed a mid 20's lad, who I had had a chat with, climb a 3 pitch trad route in Bristol (using double ropes) that i'd just done using a single, come down 60 or so metres from the very last moves, due to a 1 in-a-million rock fall which severed both his ropes at the harness. He landed right next to me and the obvious procedures of calling the ambulance, waiting with him, statements etc were given, and miraculously he survived. (I found out much later) alas with multiple life changing injuries. I carried on climbing but it ended my partners outdoor climbing career there and then. 

What was uncomfortable, for myself and the other witnesses, was that we were in dark for about a year as to what had happened, the condition of the climber, what may have happened on the route, what he had done differently to us, with only 2nd hand info from a friend who's wife worked in the same hospital to go on.

I felt like it was kind of hushed up, sort of taboo to talk or ask about it, and there was nothing written about the possible cause, the local rag obviously making as much of a balls up of this as this years Main Wall accident report. This being in a super popular crag that I continued to climb at, it was difficult mentally as a direct witness, to move on without some feeling of closure or at least some information moving forward. 

I realise I'm focussing on 'myself' there when a climber had life changing experiences but for myself and the wider local climbing community, I feel a report a few months later would have been highly beneficial. I would also assume the climber(s) involved would have been more than happy to ensure others didn't make the same error (if one were made).

Post edited at 23:24
Northern Star on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

I've posted this on the other thread too, but seeing this thread, felt that it might be more appropriate here - maybe something climbing can learn from?

I'm a private pilot and the discussion of accidents and sharing of information after an incident is common place.  Yes there is always some speculation, however it's considered good practice to discuss these things openly after the event.  There is no sense that the sharing of information is in some way disrespectful or that this sort of thing should be swept under the carpet.

This sharing of information, whether technical or human causes (or both) has no doubt lead to the saving of many other lives over the years and after each incident, we try to learn from it and make sure that we all avoid the same mistakes.  The sharing of this information benefits everyone's safety.

It also helps of course that that following any accident or incident, these are all are investigated properly by the AAIB and monthly bulletins produced such as here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/air-accident-monthly-bulletins

Regulations or operating procedures are often updated following an incident and most good pilots read these reports with interest and by doing so, learn a little more every time.

These, alongside the improvements in aviation technology of course, are the main the reasons why aviation (whether private or commercial), is so safe these days, and continues to get safer year on year.

Trangia on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

IIRC the BMC used to report accidents in the 1960s in it's excellent little magazine.

bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

> And there may be good reason for that, and there's no obligation.  We do this for fun; we don't have to submit a risk assessment and there's no more reason for anyone to submit an accident report than to report a near miss.

 

If there is a fatality there will be a coroners report I assume and some enquiries by the authorities.

 

> But UKC has no more obligation to do anything than anyone involved in an accident has.  

 

I am not a journalist, but I would suspect that a passionate journalist or any believer in a free press would suggest that the media does have a certain obligation to report newsworthy issues in a balanced and truthful way. 

 

2
Kemics - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Donny M:

I didnt witness any of the accidents in avon but i do climb there very regularly. I found it strange how there have been 3 serious accients there in the last year or so? (I know of two deaths and one accident with life changing injuries) and no one really talks about what happened. Given that it could well have been crucial fixed gear failing (it is avon after all) it seems strange that information isnt shared. One of the climbers who died was extremely competent and extremely well thought of locally as a very safe and sensible climber... if it can happen to them, it could happen to anyone. 

 

 

 

 

Coel Hellier - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Kemics:

> I found it strange how there have been 3 serious accients there in the last year or so? (I know of two deaths and one accident with life changing injuries) and no one really talks about what happened. Given that it could well have been crucial fixed gear failing (it is avon after all) it seems strange that information isnt shared.

This seems to me the sort of thing that should be known about and discussed.   The problem on UKC has been (what I think is) a small portion of posters who try to shut down debate on UKC by getting very aggressive towards anyone who tries to discuss anything on a news thread about an accident. 

Their excuse is that it should be done on other threads instead, but it hardly ever is, so the result is that they effectively shut down any discussion of what went wrong.

I'd suggest that the majority of UKC users would be happy with a more open culture about discussing the causes of accidents.

Robert Durran - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I'd suggest that the majority of UKC users would be happy with a more open culture about discussing the causes of accidents.

Maybe what is needed is a separate accident discussion forum to keep all this stuff together - it's existence might encourage these "separate threads" to actually happen and keep them separate from the "RIP" type stuff in the existing climbing forums. And it means that those not interested don't need to see it.

 

badgerjockey - on 15 May 2018
In reply to petecallaghan:

Pete, I really hope this takes off and the BMC or other body capable of compiling and maintaining the database realise the value of it.

The ‘numpty mistakes and near misses’ listed on it are not terribly relevant, I would argue, though. E.g. the incident of the guy abbing at Baggy who put his belay plate on this leg loop isn’t route specific and is a general mistake. It should rather be for incidents which may change the conditions, protection and access to a route etc.

A properly maintained incident database, whether ‘open source’ like yours or more closed resulting in a quarterly/annual report can still avoid legal issues resulting from libel/contempt of court etc. provided those maintaining it obtain proof and accurate statements. If other sports and industries do it successfully and improve their safety that way then so can ours. 

Personally, I think this idea would be essential for climbing to move forward. It would really help end the speculation, the forum arguments, the confusion over a route’s condition, the press snooping and rubbernecking following an accident if we all knew it would be reported on fully. 

It may also help people make more informed judgments about what they do and don’t Climb, help prioritise efforts to improve crags where needed, improve communication and general saftey in the sport and encourage newcomers.  

Post edited at 09:15
Martin Bagshaw - on 15 May 2018
GrahamD - on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

I think just publishing raw accident data is a bad idea.  For a start you rely on the technical competence of the person logging the incident not to corrupt raw data with their own misconceptions.  Then people are extremely bad at making meaningful judgements on small probabilities so you end up with stupid panic over reactions to events which may just as well have unforseen consequences equally as dire as the ones being 'avoided'.  So the impossible to check cluster f*ck arising from someone unwilling to trust an overhand knot in an abseil rope around a tree for instance, or getting benighted because every belay on Idwal slabs had to be text book 'best practice'.  And its not as though the consequences of falling off aren't patently obvious in any case.

 

3
daWalt on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

> If there is a fatality there will be a coroners report I assume and some enquiries by the authorities.

this sort of comment always seems to crop up; there will be a coroner's report and some investigation by (unspecified) authorities.

this isn't to you personally; but as anyone ever got any useful information from either of the above.

a coroner's report is to determine the cause of death, and a verdict of death by misadventure doesn't help any understanding of the causes, contributing factors, or anything that could be useful in understanding how to avoid similar in the future. investigation by "the authorities" would be focused on anything potentially unlawful; again little use in understanding contributing factors and influences.

if coroner's reports or such like were any use to us in improving understanding, safety, systems and causes we'd know about it.

this sort of comment is just a convenient means to punt the whole question into the long grass.

1
Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to petecallaghan:

Hi Pete 

I think the structure is good and the work well motivated but how do we move on from such reports  to produce real learning gains? How do we get people to stop making the stupid mistakes reported and in some cases what looks like pure incompetance by people who are broadly competant, to reduce deaths and serious injuries? Climbers usually just don't read these things and if they do, they too often think 'what idiots, this is not me'. 

In the short term, collation and analysis of UK MRT reports to provide clear lessons would be better. Thie following link is the best report I've seen in terms of distilled pratical information and I suspect most climbers on El Cap still won't have read it.   https://www.friendsofyosar.org/climbing

People focus too much on physical climbing stuff and hard moves when the bigger issues are more often climber psychology and lack of focus when things ease off.

So here is a short list of ten things to do to avoid accidents and cut risk in the UK when climbing, from my long experience around climbers from the most experinced and able, to many fledglings, would be as follows:

Some of the best climbers in the world have made really stupid mistakes. Its the height of arrogance to assume you are immune. I really think most climbers don't get this.

Climbing is an activity with a risk of death and serious injury. This applies in all climbing not just high icy peaks but even indoor bouldering. Too many don't get this and this means they won't concentrate properly and might hurt someone.. too many see it as fun until something bad happens.

Understand avalanche behaviour on UK mountains and avoid risk areas as much as possible. Something ignored by huge numbers every year.

Buddy check when climbing, as a norm. Don't distract people with trivia when they are doing safety critical actions.  I've known many experienced climbers make mistakes like this that led to safety errors in belay or abseil set-ups.

Take extra care when on easy terrain where the consequences of a slip are serious, especially if loose. The YOSAR stats show this is a big killer of experienced climbers.

If you wont wear a helmet all the time at least get into the practice of wearing a helmet when risks/consequences go up. I seem to be almost unique in wearing a lid when bouldering alone where rotating off backwards into rocks is possible. I always wear a helmet when belaying on limestone or below other parties. I often don't wear a helmet on well protected trad with no friable or loose rock. Nearly everyone wears one in winter on routes but few when winter walking in potential avalanche terrain.

Take extra care when climbing with partners you don't know. Assume they might do something stupid. I long ago got into the habit of only teaching on routes I could happily solo and being very cautious about teaching other climbers to lead, after some near misses. I see climbers being kind and taking others on adventures, where really they are on routes where they need an experienced partner.

When you make a mistake try very hard to focus calmly on how to get out of it.. precipitous decisions can lead to multiple mistakes with tragic consequencies.

As well as relying on systems learn to problem solve for when your system no longer applies. Practice things that can get you out of trouble if bad stuff happens (first aid, ascending ropes efficently, downclimbing, simulated rescue etc)

Use experienced climbers to help with new climbing games. Hire a guide if you have to, it will nearly always save you in risk and money terms in the long run.

bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to daWalt:

> this sort of comment always seems to crop up; there will be a coroner's report and some investigation by (unspecified) authorities.

[..................]

> this sort of comment is just a convenient means to punt the whole question into the long grass.

My comment was in reply to a previous reply which will entail people reading the Thread. The person said that as its peoples leisure they do not want to make reports (this was not said, "or maybe do not feel answerable during leisure") and my comment was just saying that like it or not in a serious accident or fatality the authorities will take an interest and you will be answerable.

How useful coroners reports are to the climbing fraternity I do not know, but I am inclined to think that something from the BMC and reporting in our Media, be that UKC or paper media, would be of use

jkarran - on 15 May 2018
In reply to badgerjockey:

> The ‘numpty mistakes and near misses’ listed on it are not terribly relevant, I would argue, though. E.g. the incident of the guy abbing at Baggy who put his belay plate on this leg loop isn’t route specific and is a general mistake. It should rather be for incidents which may change the conditions, protection and access to a route etc.

The 'numpty mistakes' are well worth understanding, if a pattern of minor incidents/mistakes can be identified and addressed before a major one maims or kills someone. For example this weekend launching my glider I dropped a wing at launch, released the tow immediately and ended up rolling off the runway, no big deal, it happens from time to time. If I'd delayed the release by a second or so (tempting as it is often recoverable and releasing causes delays) I'd have likely broken my aircraft in the rough at the runway edge, if that delayed release had lead to me getting really out of shape I'd have risked cartwheeling it in the nearby crop which is potentially lethal and upsetting the tug 'plane which is obviously a serious hazard. The thing is the training only changed a couple of years ago to emphasise mandatory and really prompt release in that situation because a trend had been detected in the minor incident reports. Now climbing obviously doesn't have the same formal training and licencing procedures that make directly addressing these issues straightforward but it's not impossible, the BMC has in the past run various effective awareness campaigns (check or deck! for example). My point is that it is worth recording and understanding the significance of trends in minor incidents because they can lead to inputs preventing a more serious one.

> A properly maintained incident database, whether ‘open source’ like yours or more closed resulting in a quarterly/annual report can still avoid legal issues resulting from libel/contempt of court etc. provided those maintaining it obtain proof and accurate statements. If other sports and industries do it successfully and improve their safety that way then so can ours. 

Our culture of litigation and strong/biased liable law does mean maintaining an open public register without a technically competent investigative team (not going to happen) involved is problematic. The alternative really is open discussion of incidents by those involved (seems understandably unpopular) on a case by case basis or a closed system of reporting to a committee that can then produce a vague/anonymised periodic digest (unsatisfactory) while ensuring technical issues are reported to the correct bodies/companies and trends are identified.

The easy solution is to do nothing, continue treating climbing as an essentially solitary activity people can learn at their own pace to a degree of competency that satisfies them. There's some merit in this.

jk

Post edited at 10:18
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bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

 

> Climbing is an activity with a risk of death and serious injury. This applies in all climbing not just high icy peaks but even indoor bouldering. Too many don't get this and this means they won't concentrate properly and might hurt someone.. too many see it as fun until something bad happens.

>

 

I agree with this.
Look how many threads there are on here encouraging people to fall off more, but not really going into the consequences of falling.
Recently there was a thread from someone seemingly leading S/HS and maybe 6a, wanting to get over their fear of falling.
Cue mucho encurgament of how to fall off.
Nothing about risk assement and that if you fall off a S/HS you are likely to hurt yourself.

Kemics - on 15 May 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

I think the problem is not who collates/inputs the data but who actually would collect it? Obviously with a fatality you cant gain consent from the dead so for the most part someone is going to need to speak to their belayer. That is going to be a really difficult  and awkard job to find out who that person is and then ask them specific questions about what will probably end up being one of the most traumatic experiences of their life. It could definitely be done but it would require great tact/skill and probably some training on interviewing and bereavement. I think it's possible to do well, but not by volunteers. I dont think its appropriate for a random person to do. But if someone with appropriate training and a professional status i.e "hello, my name is X, i represent the British Mountaineering Council and look at data regarding incidents. Would you be comfortable answering a few technical questions about the accident you witnessed. I appreciate this must have been a very difficult experience etc" 

 

I think ultimately the biggest problem is going to be: who will pay for it. The answer is likely no one and we will be left with hearsay and grapevine reports. It's a shame because i think it could have real value 

 

Edit: actually thinking about it i wonder if this is something that if done right could help provide some closure/debriefing? I have no idea but i wonder if the belayer feels any sense abandonment by the climbing community (wild speculation)? 

Post edited at 10:16
maxsmith - on 15 May 2018
In reply to jkarran: Climbing accident reporting systems are already in use in many other countries worldwide i.e. America, France, Austria to name but a few.  The legal/libel/litigation problems mentioned many times in this thread have not stopped these projects. I don't see why it will be any different in the UK.

 

 

jkarran - on 15 May 2018
In reply to maxsmith:

> Climbing accident reporting systems are already in use in many other countries worldwide i.e. America, France, Austria to name but a few.  The legal/libel/litigation problems mentioned many times in this thread have not stopped these projects. I don't see why it will be any different in the UK.

You're right they don't have to stop it. They do have to be carefully considered and addressed if it's not to fail rapidly and expensively the first time Joe Blogs or BrandXYZ believes their reputation has been harmed unjustly by a report or conclusion.

jk

GrahamD - on 15 May 2018
In reply to maxsmith:

> Climbing accident reporting systems are already in use in many other countries worldwide i.e. America, France, Austria to name but a few.  The legal/libel/litigation problems mentioned many times in this thread have not stopped these projects. I don't see why it will be any different in the UK.

Are there any significant differences in accident rates because of it ?

1
maxsmith - on 15 May 2018
In reply to jkarran:

Have a read of the AAC's accident reports: http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201213878/Fall-on-Rock-Lowering-Errors-Rope-Too-Short

The vast majority of reports are self-submitted by either the climber, or their partner. This removes almost all legal and libel issues.  Most Mountain Rescue reports on AAC are anonymous.  

Jon Greengrass on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

There is more money to be made and prestige to be earned in promoting and supporting competition climbing than there is in actually doing something that would benefit the majority of BMC members like proper accident recording, investigating and reporting.

 

10
Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Conflating such issues is simply nasty and unhelpful.

1
jkarran - on 15 May 2018
In reply to maxsmith:

Fine where he's essentially blaming himself as in the link provided but imagine another report where that injury were slightly more serious and the climber slightly more inclined to blame the belayer for not knotting the rope or noticing the end of it approach or the family for changing plans. Imagine there were a big loss of earnings or medical or care bill involved.

Incidentally I've had essentially that very same accident, same cause!

> The vast majority of reports are self-submitted by either the climber, or their partner. This removes almost all legal and libel issues.  

Not for the individuals making the reports it doesn't, especially if they've fallen out over the incident and have different recollections and interpretations. Even if you stick to what you believe to be the facts proving you did so against a well funded opponent can prove ruinous..

jk

Post edited at 10:36
Coel Hellier - on 15 May 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> Even if you stick to what you believe to be the facts proving you did so against a well funded opponent can prove ruinous..

Any actual examples of this ...? 

There does seem to be a UKC culture of "let's scheme up lots of reasons for why we can't just openly discuss causes of accidents".   

1
jkarran - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Any actual examples of this ...? 

There are lots of expensive liable cases going through the UK courts constantly, we're globally renowned for or strong liable laws. I've no particular climbing examples (unsurprising given we are few and do as a community tend to shut down accident discussion in anything but the broadest most anonymous terms) but I've no cause to suspect that climbing related companies would be any less willing to use the courts to protect their reputations than others.

> There does seem to be a UKC culture of "let's scheme up lots of reasons for why we can't just openly discuss causes of accidents".   

I think we should. I do think in so doing some discussions expose those involved and possibly those publishing the discussions to legal risks.

jk

Dave Garnett - on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

> Nothing about risk assement and that if you fall off a S/HS you are likely to hurt yourself.

I was struck by this at the weekend on a big, rambling classic mountain Severe.  It was mostly pretty easy but with all the spikes, flakes, ledges and chimneys, falling off was very definitely worth avoiding.

Coel Hellier - on 15 May 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> I've no cause to suspect that climbing related companies would be any less willing to use the courts to protect their reputations than others.

Accidents involving commercial companies must be a very small fraction of the total.   So this seems another "let's invent reasons for not doing it". 

Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

There are several cases involving guides and instructors that ended up in court, most famously Smiler. No one here is thinking up reasons not to do these things they are just pointing out real world issues that need to be taken into account;  the real reason its not done is funding and time and the more benign UK situation. Most other areas that have done this are dealing with much higher risk levels and too many stupid and serious mistakes. Someone needs to fund most of this and others need to do most of the work voluntarily as the gains from such a database are not worth core BMC funding and time in my and many others opinion... MRT publish local lists which are only read by a tiny minority and  the BMC already collate and publish real problems and real risks in their many excellent educational outputs.

2
jkarran - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Accidents involving commercial companies must be a very small fraction of the total.   So this seems another "let's invent reasons for not doing it". 

I'm not inventing reasons for not doing it, I think we should do it. I also think we should consider and mitigate the risk that exposes individuals and publishers to in the event of a disputed report before it happens rather than once it is happening.

jk

Alex Messenger, BMC - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Hi

Great thread. This seems to come up every now and again after an accident. We have previously tried to get an accident discussion going. We started if off with an article in Summit magazine, with the account of an accident (actually an accident involving me..) and then Dan Middleton, BMC Technical Officer, gave some analysis.

It worked well, seemed to be interesting and I even learnt something. Then we did web articles and social posts to get another incident for the next issue. However, despite plenty of promotion, no-one sent anything in. 

This unscientific study leads me to believe that it's harder than we think to get people to send in accident reports / info - for all the obvious reasons. So, if a system was to work, it'd probably need more of a proactive approach, contacting people who have been involved in an accident, MR teams etc etc, with all the obvious pitfalls there too.

It could be be great, especially if accidents in Europe involving Brits were included, as you might discover some trends with, say, avalanches. However, it'd be a chunky project, which the BMC wouldn't have resources for now.

It'd be perfect for someone's masters dissertation though... anyone out there?

But in the meantime, we'd love to get this feature restarted in Summit. So if you've had an accident and would be willing to share all the details - then get in touch with alex@thebmc.co.uk. 

 

 

 

bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

You seem to being viewing this from a regulatory, dare I say BMC perspective, which is good, and I agree with.

However my OP does comment just the reporting of this as news or even the discussion of accidents seems taboo. I know a lot of climbers personally and I am on FB and here, and tend to hear of vague tales of accidents and most of these accidents are not mentioned on here, some fatalaties some life changing. No one knows whats happened. If I was a newbie I could be forgiven for thinking that accidents never happen. Oddly the falling thread I allude to, the OP saw an accident.

Post edited at 11:14
Rob Morgan on 15 May 2018
In reply to Kemics:

An MRT team usually attend these scenes, so you could ask them to speak to the belayer - I'm sure they would do so in a comforting manner regardless of whether they are trying to glean information. They will also I imagine come to their own conclusions on incidents even without speaking to the belayer. Their expert opinion could be shared?

bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Rob Morgan:

MRT teams seem to try to be non critical, possibly getting involved with this could possibly imply criticism.

deepsoup - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Alex Messenger, BMC:

> It'd be perfect for someone's masters dissertation though... anyone out there?

Oh God.  Now it just seems inevitable that an undergrad is going to take it on, starting with a half-arsed Surveymonkey thing on here..

1
Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Ask not what the BMC can do for you but what you can do for the BMC, and all that. I favour reports but not funded from BMC income when it is struggling to afford core work, lets see sponsors and volunteers. Climbers need to learn from these reports:  taking the horse to water won't necessarily make it drink. There is loads of stuff out there on how to avoid making the same mistakes others did. When you read the MRT reports, especially on avalanche outcomes, its like a distortion on the old Peter Cooke quote: I've learnt from others mistakes and can repeat them exactly. Here endeth the distorted quotes and metaphores, but climbers simply need to understand their own psychology better and recognise they are capable of the same stupid shit and once that recognition is in place, do stuff to avoid it.

Post edited at 11:24
4
bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Ask not what the BMC can do for you but what you can do for the BMC, [.................] Climbers need to learn from these reports:  taking the horse to water won't necessarily make it drink. There is loads of stuff out there on how to avoid making the same mistakes others did. [......] but climbers simply need to understand their own psychology better and recognise they are capable of the same stupid shit and once that recognition is in place, do stuff to avoid it.

But there are non or at least very few reports or much in the Media, you are focusing on the BMCs role again. We are a mediated society and the info/discussion is not there.

 

Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

I was just pointing out that I step up and defend the BMC when people like JG (who should know better) make childish attacks on this subject. I don't care where it is done but think BMC input would be useful. The best database possible will still have limited effect until most climbers stop being in denial that they can make such stupid mistakes themselves. Its obviously best to learn stuff before accidents happen as opposed to from their experience in accidents or near misses. In the 'golden age' people used to go to the Alps for their first season and several percentage never returned. Too many older climbers seemed to think this was unfortunate but normal; I found it shocking. One of my first positive experiences of the BMC was in my Uni club with their work on winter safety and Conville awards, where people learnt from experts before they went. The interaction with experts made it much more obvious that everyone could be that person who made the silly mistake. This clearly improved focus on the skills they subsequently learned.

 

 

Post edited at 12:03
Rob Morgan on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

I wouldn't suggest a reporting system should replace proper learning and courses. It's more a supplement, and perhaps a way to identify areas of weakness that we should do more to be aware of.

Many climbers, myself included, go on from courses and pick up bad habits or forget things. In some cases, reports would serve as useful ongoing learning resource. Ideally it would get to a stage, as it has in cave diving, where we have learnt so much as a community that incidents are even rarer than they are now.

Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Rob Morgan:

If such things as reports worked well on their own in learning terms we wouldn't need teachers. We could just give people books and intermet resources. I know quite a few cave divers and they say accident rates have reduced for all sorts of reasons, not just the excellent reporting. The John Dill report I linked above exists as one of the best analyses of climbing deaths and serious accidents anywhere and experienced climbers still die on El Cap for the same 'stupid' avoidable reasons.

Post edited at 12:51
Coel Hellier - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Someone needs to fund most of this and others need to do most of the work voluntarily ...

Actually, all it needs is a culture of openly discussing accidents on UKC, as opposed to the active discouragement of that by certain people.

Kemics - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I think the reality is most people probably dont want to talk about it. I think unless an organisation (like the BMC) reaches out and encourages them, for the benefit of the community, they will just speak to close friends (understandably). 

Coel Hellier - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Kemics:

> I think the reality is most people probably dont want to talk about it.

Do we actually know what, or are most people instead being discouraged by a vocal minority?

Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

"> Someone needs to fund most of this and others need to do most of the work voluntarily ...

Actually, all it needs is a culture of openly discussing accidents on UKC, as opposed to the active discouragement of that by certain people."

 

If I may say so that is pretty lazy and naive commentary from a Prof.

When most people on UKC complain or discourage  it is usually because the facts cannot be known  at that point or no concern is shown by the OP (rubber-necking). I've been on the Ben in a multiple accident scenario where the predicted weather patterns changed suddenly and left an excellent avalanche forecast incorrect. The updated version was not seen by those on the hill but was by ignorant UKC posters who used it to blame those in the accidents. Experienced climbers realised what was going on but some had easier escape options than others.  There were several parties caught up in avalanches and two close friends in a really serious accident (lucky for them Lochaber MRT were already on the hill, otherwise one of them would have died)  I had a discussion with MRT on the subject and they said don't post to correct and don't talk to the press, leave it to them. The family could read online accusations of incompetatnce for someone they loved who had almost died, exceedingly shitty really.  

I've never seen anyone criticise reporting of analysed accidents nor of self reported accidents to help others. I do question how much most climbers actually learn from any reports. It takes a big effort to admit that we are not as in control in decision making as we would like to think, especially when facing a combination of fatigue, temperature extremes, dehydration and fear..

Post edited at 13:39
2
bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

>I think the reality is most people probably dont want to talk about it.

> Do we actually know what, or are most people instead being discouraged by a vocal minority?

Like I said in the OP. Head in sand.
To conciously evaluate a risk, accept and proceed is one thing, but to try and deny the risk exists, is another.

ClimberEd - on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

> >I think the reality is most people probably dont want to talk about it.

 

I'm not sure I agree. Over the years lots of threads have been started about accidents, and they have been 'shouted down' by the don't talk about it/it's rubbernecking brigade. 

As I said earlier, rubberneck away, accidents are part of our sport and should be talked about - both at a technical level and a more gossipy level (to pretend otherwise is to deny human nature)

Coel Hellier - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> If I may say so that is pretty lazy and naive commentary from a Prof.

Nope, it isn't.   And I've read your concerns on this point several times on previous threads and I simply disagree with you. 

I don't know, though, what portion of UKC users agree with you or not.

Rob Morgan on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I've never seen anyone criticise reporting of analysed accidents nor of self reported accidents to help others. I do question how much most climbers actually learn from any reports. It takes a big effort to admit that we are not as in control in decision making as we would like to think, especially when facing a combination of fatigue, temperature extremes, dehydration and fear..

I would disagree with this. Yes people still die on El Cap despite reports. I suppose the only way to know if the reports make a difference is to see if any numbers have changed. There certainly will be no chance for learning if there are no reports whatsoever.

I think there is learning to be had from accident reports. As I've said, I've personally changed my behaviour based on reading reports, and from word of mouth about unreported incidents.

 

GrahamD - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Rob Morgan:

> I think there is learning to be had from accident reports. As I've said, I've personally changed my behaviour based on reading reports, and from word of mouth about unreported incidents.

In what way and in response to what ? genuinely interested. 

 

TobyA on 15 May 2018
In reply to jkarran:

Do you mean libel or cases over liability?

petecallaghan - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Collecting and publishing incident reports is a necessary step, but not by itself enough to improve our safety.

Any such service needs to engage the trust of the climbing, hillwalking and mountaineering community, and I think this will require a variety of activities over a long period to share the lessons learned.

I think the American Alpine Club has already been mentioned. There are other great examples, such as the Austrian Kuratorium Alpine Sicherheit and the Serac incidents and accidents service provided by the Camptocamp website.

The latter is an example of how we could combine incident reports with UKC/UKH to make it much easier for people to find and submit reports. For example, highlighting incidents or accidents at particular areas or routes.

I love this quote from Dr Gabl of the Austrian system: 

"Our purpose is to learn from accidents because you learn much more from real incidents than theoretical events. We know we are saving lives."

 

Post edited at 14:12
Rob Morgan on 15 May 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

A recent incident in which I heard not enough gear was placed when it could have been. It caused me to reevaluate my style. Last year I was becoming too concerned about speed and was placing less gear. This year I have found myself placing more gear.

You could argue it is best practise and sensible to place more gear. Naturally, I was taught to do this. I felt I learned a lot from hearing about the incident.

Another time, I read a report of a climber falling a long way due to running out an easy top-out - they were then blown off a ledge by strong winds. A somewhat unusual situation, but from this case I have always paid more attention to wind conditions.

Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Rob Morgan:

I'm not saying people haven't changed. I'm saying Dill's work is almost as good as it gets,  based on expert analysis of real incidents, pretty much exclusively to experienced climbers, and still way too many avoidable accidents happen,  even to those who have read and understood his report. I think I've changed just like you do, but when the accident scenario arrives sometimes it turns out we have been deluding ourselves. I've witnessed basic mistakes from very experienced safety obsessed climbers who very much get the psychology issues involved: no one is immune from mistakes. The continued avoidable deaths in places like yosemite tell me we experinced climbers overestimate our learning ability and underestimate how much we need to learn and how badly we will react when under intense pressures or how easlily we lose focus and make mistakes in easier terrain.

1
Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Read the words you wrote Coel. Its not about your opinion, which I have time for but disagree with, what you said is lazy and naive.

Post edited at 14:43
1
bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I've witnessed basic mistakes from very experienced safety obsessed climbers who very much get the psychology issues involved: no one is immune from mistakes. The continued avoidable deaths in places like yosemite tell me we experinced climbers overestimate our learning ability and underestimate how much we need to learn and how badly we will react when under intense pressures or how easlily we lose focus and make mistakes in easier terrain.

 

Do you think we overestimate our own abilities. ie the car going slower is a numpty the one going faster is a maniac.
It would be fascinating to see how many women have accidents. As women seem underepresented in climbing/mountaineering figures may be hard to come by, but I am led to believe that men tend to overestimate their abilities and women under estimate.

 

GrahamD - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Rob Morgan:

This is from the report of one such incident though, not from accident stats, which might not even have catalogued how many runners were in play in each incident in any case (or whether runners were available but ignored as opposed to it being a run out route).

Point here (for me anyway) is that one salutary tail, in an easily digestible form, is all that was needed here and trying to get the data that says x% of climbers with y experience who chose to not place gear on routes z grades within their capability suffered X amount of trauma.

 

Offwidth - on 15 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Read Dill's report. Your analogy is so simplistic it is useless.

Women are a clear benefit in more sensible risk approaches in some circumstances. at a high altitude medicine lecture I sneaked into the weekend before last the reported death stats for 8000m+ groups with 2 or more women in the party are much improved over other groups (albeit based on small numbers so far). I've climbed with many men who do stupidly brave stuff beyond the limit of what I regard as sensible, but never with a woman who did that (despite some impressive ascents for their ability).

Post edited at 15:00
bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

>

>I've climbed with many men who do stupidly brave stuff beyond the limit of what I regard as sensible,

If you have not assesed the risk correctly, is it brave?

jkarran - on 15 May 2018
In reply to TobyA:

> Do you mean libel or cases over liability?

As far as I'm aware I mean liable where one person's memory or interpretation of events differs from another's (or a company's) and the publishing of one or more of those versions results in reputational or financial harm. I'm sure it can be done but some care is needed. I'm no lawyer as I'm sure you can tell, I could be wrong, perhaps it is all easy and safe.

jk

Post edited at 15:14
lithos on 15 May 2018
Northern Star on 15 May 2018
In reply to ClimberEd:

I think the best thing to do would be to have dedicated forum section on here regarding safety, best practice and accident reporting.  That way, anyone involved in an incident could choose (should they wish) to post up the details regarding what went wrong, the mistakes they've made and how they perhaps, in hindsight, could have avoided it.  This would no doubt be a valuable resource for others to learn from, some common accident trends might just crop up which could then be improved upon, and you know what, if it saves someone else a hospital trip (or worse), then surely it must be a worthwhile thing?

In reply to bedspring:

We don't feel that UKC is the place for announcing accidents and evaluating them. As a few people have commented, occasionally forum responses aren't always particularly thoughtful and sometimes attract mainstream journalists looking for soundbites without questioning the validity of the speculations/comments etc. There are plans being discussed for a UK national incident reporting system for climbers and mountaineers and we are in communication about linking through to this system from UKC.
1
Ramblin dave - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

I'd welcome more attention to learning what we can learn from accidents, but from past experience on here I'm not convinced that forum discussions about accidents are the best way to do that. The people who were there at the time or who otherwise have detailed knowledge of what actually happened might have something valuable to say, but generally everyone else a) speculates wildly, b) bangs on about their usual hobby horse ("...but as long as glossy magazines keep printing pictures of Sponsored Heroes crushing hard routes in the sun..."), c) gets on a high horse about how a competent climber like themself would obviously never make a mistake like that, and anyone who would is clearly unfit to be anywhere near a rock face or d) does all of the above...

Kemics - on 15 May 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

> In what way and in response to what ? genuinely interested. 

Personally after reading dave mcleod's blog about lowering off the end of his sport rope and smashing his foot/ankle .. i always tie knots at the rope end when abseiling now. Even if im certain my rope is long enough, just so it becomes a force of habit. Takes so little time and prevents an injury that takes years to heal 

Also climbing in yosemite, i trawled all the accident reports before going and adopted loads of habits (too many to list!) 

Northern Star on 15 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Unless that section of the forum didn't accept comments - that way folk could post without fear of negativity?  Posts would only accepted from those who've actually had the accident (rather than biased/skewed/speculative/possibly inaccurate reports from a third party or onlooker) should solve any issues with misrepresentation or being respectful of other's misfortune?

bedspring on 15 May 2018
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Thank you for your response. Do News articles have to allow forum comment?

GrahamD - on 15 May 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

But who decides who is qualified to post on 'best practice'  (there are no shortage of books on it) ? or to asses every incident ? 

petecallaghan - on 16 May 2018
In reply to petecallaghan:

If you're interested, here's an update on our project to put in place a UK incident reporting service: https://wpetecallaghan.wixsite.com/incidentreportstrial/single-post/2018/05/16/BMC-Working-Party-Agreed

The energetic discussion on this thread and its timing was serendipitous  

Howard J - on 16 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Proper analysis of accidents to see what can be learned from them is one thing.  This is what AAC does, their report "documents the year’s most significant and teachable climbing accidents. Each incident is analyzed to show what went wrong, in order to help climbers avoid similar problems in the future."

Mere speculation on internet forums by people who were not there and have no knowledge of the facts provides nothing useful but can be distressing for relatives.  That is why that sort of discussion gets shut down.  There may be a case for reporting and analysing accidents, but UKC is not the place for it.  The BMC or Mountain Rescue would be more appropriate.

I think the question of legal liability is exaggerated.  If a climbing accident is sufficiently serious to give rise to a claim (which itself is rare) then there will already be a fairly clear indication of possible negligence, and circumstances will be pored over by expert witnesses anyway.  A mistake is not necessarily negligent in the legal sense, and I don't see that an independent lesson-learning report would make it more likely that a claim would be raised or would affect the outcome.

Libel is entirely different from liability.  The important thing to remember is that telling the truth is not libellous. I think it is very unlikely that any libel cases would be brought as a result of a fact-based climbing accident report. 

jkarran - on 16 May 2018
In reply to Howard J:

> Libel is entirely different from liability.  The important thing to remember is that telling the truth is not libellous. I think it is very unlikely that any libel cases would be brought as a result of a fact-based climbing accident report. 

Facts are great where everyone agrees but my point is that facts get disputed, people have different, sometimes unreliable memories and interpretations of what happened. In the case of accidents/incidents where harm has occurred that matters. It isn't a show stopper but in the long run disputes will arise and that should be considered before they do. 

jk

Post edited at 10:00
Rob Morgan on 16 May 2018
In reply to petecallaghan:

Well done, it's an excellent project. I'll certainly try to follow it.

Bob Aitken - on 16 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

 

For over 50 years the SMC has published summary accident reports for the Scottish mountains in its Journal - at least when the Scottish mountain rescue authorities supplied them.  They run to hundreds every year.  Despite that long pedigree, debate continues about the value of the reports.  Back in the days when names were supplied, that generated on the one hand a predictable element of schadenfreude, and on the other a fair bit of the useful salutary reaction ‘if that happened to folk as experienced and capable as them, it could certainly happen to me’.  But a high proportion of the reports over the years confirm only that simple slips, of the sort that we can all make, and lack of appropriate equipment or navigation skills, are constant themes.  The need for careful preparation and sustained alertness are probably self-evident and don’t need accident reports to emphasise the point.

 

Scrutiny of the reports can help identify ‘black spots’ such as hazardous descent routes and avalanche risk areas.  But summary records rarely help much in identifying detailed technical errors or gear failures in climbing.  As Howard J suggests, detailed reporting and analysis is crucial if specific lessons are to be learned.  That seems to make the case for a highly selective approach, rather than a comprehensive listing of incidents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Howard J - on 16 May 2018
In reply to jkarran:

> Facts are great where everyone agrees but my point is that facts get disputed, people have different, sometimes unreliable memories and interpretations of what happened. In the case of accidents/incidents where harm has occurred that matters. It isn't a show stopper but in the long run disputes will arise and that should be considered before they do. 

> jk

But in those cases the possibility of a claim arises whether or not there has been an accident report,  An accident report will simply say what the analysts conclude happened.  In the event of a legal claim it is for a court to decide between different versions of what happened and whether it was the result of negligence.  The court would seek evidence from those actually involved, rather than second-hand from an accident report.  An accident report wouldn't determine negligence - that is the role of the court.

To be libellous a report would have to go beyond an analysis of how the accident happened, and point the finger of blame in very clear terms at someone who has a reputation to be damaged by it.  It seems unlikely that a report would do that.  The purpose of the report is to identify bad practice, not blame individuals, and it is unlikely that a person would be named.  In a very few well-publicised incidents it is possible that the individuals could be identified, but if the evidence shows that Climber A had displayed bad practice, to say so is not libel.

jkarran - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Howard J:

> But in those cases the possibility of a claim arises whether or not there has been an accident report,  An accident report will simply say what the analysts conclude happened. 

Not necessarily, the dispute may remain simply a difference of opinion or a squabble between individuals until those individuals differing accounts are published and harm is done by their publication. An accident report compiled by experts is not the same thing, nor is it likely to happen, there's far too much time or money required.

> To be libellous a report would have to go beyond an analysis of how the accident happened, and point the finger of blame in very clear terms at someone who has a reputation to be damaged by it.

Yes and that could happen. A made up example:

Climber: I decked, broke my leg and lost my job because my belayer A.Guide, not acting in a professional capacity that day was busy chatting up a lass at the crag when I fell.

Belayer: He broke his leg because he ran out too far from the gear, I was paying attention, took in slack but there was nothing more I could do and now my business is suffering because of his mistaken report.

> It seems unlikely that a report would do that.  The purpose of the report is to identify bad practice, not blame individuals, and it is unlikely that a person would be named.  In a very few well-publicised incidents it is possible that the individuals could be identified, but if the evidence shows that Climber A had displayed bad practice, to say so is not libel.

If there's clear evidence then no but often these things involve just two people often with very different perspectives. Even the existance of clear evidence doesn't always stop people making spurious claims in the hope of an early settlement, people are put off by the risk of defending a claim or simply unable to afford to do so. The point is people's opinions and memories of incidents frequently differ for legitimate and less legitimate reasons and things aren't always clear cut, if people are to publish their own accounts other than completely anonymously (nearly impossible in a small community) there is potential for conflict. If enough accounts are published that conflict becomes almost inevitable and it's sensible to at least have an understanding of who that puts at risk and how to mitigate the risk before it occurs.

I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying anticipate and plan for problems before they arise.

jk

Offwidth - on 17 May 2018
In reply to jkarran:

Indeed. Even if an eyewitness is being totally honest they can build narratives into memory of events that can distort the reality of what happened.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyewitness_testimony

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyewitness_memory

Post edited at 11:32
Howard J - on 17 May 2018
In reply to jkarran:

I think we may be talking about different scenarios.  I have in mind the sort of accident reporting carried out by the AAC. You seem to be talking about people posting about their own experiences, which happens anyway.  That could potentially give rise to libel claims (something people posting on the internet seem to forget) although I think in reality they are very unlikely to happen.  In the example you cite, I think the crucial question would be whether or not the belayer had in fact been talking to someone.  

When the two parties have different interpretaions of what happened it is then up to the court to decide between the competing claims.  However I don't see how it would make any difference whether or not those claims had previously been aired in public. The courts would certainly ignore it.

If you're a BMC member you get third party liability cover so it would be for the insurers to sort out.

Pan Ron - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Northern Star:

Obviously I've given my views on the other thread too.

But can reiterate my experience of the general aviation community and more personally the paragliding community.

We have a trickle down culture from industry of reporting all accidents.  We report them to the BHPA and our clubs.  In the incidents I have been involved in or witnessed I have felt no shame in reporting exactly what occurred (mid-air collision, airspace breaches, fatalities, etc).  In fact, I took it as my duty to report them so they could be reproduced in our national circulars and help contribute to the experience of all. 

Back in my country of origin, the monthly/quarterly Flight Safety magazine, essentially a copy of Summit, sent to all pilots, be they 747, crop-duster or sailplane drivers, featured among its articles a brief paragraph about every incident that occurred in the previous period.  It fostered a no-blame culture and would cover every incident from that which impacted the 747 to that which impacted the sailplane. 

There needn't even be injury or death.  A close shave was grounds enough to file a report, something everyone could have as a salient reminder that "it will never happen to me" is simply not the case.

And to reiterate the point I made on the other thread - just because it isn't the culture in climbing, just because we view this as a recreational activity, are absolutely not excuses to say it couldn't and shouldn't be done here.  Other sectors have managed to do so despite more entrenched views and lower inherent risks,

Pan Ron - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

> And there may be good reason for that, and there's no obligation.  We do this for fun;

And no one is asking for any obligation.  My personal view is however that anyone who has had an accident of any type perhaps should take it as a personal obligation to help ensure others don't suffer the same misfortune.

> we don't have to submit a risk assessment and there's no more reason for anyone to submit an accident report than to report a near miss.

Both near misses and accidents seem like very good things to report in my opinion.

> Now, people are curious and there may be much to learn, or to re-emphasise, after someone has experienced an accident.  As it is, you're more likely to find a comment about this in the reports written by Mountain Rescue teams than on here; that may be the best place for such things. 

Really?  What are the chances that mountain rescue will be called to an accident I am involved in?  What about the near misses that simply warrant a report but no call out?  Are the mountain rescue reports centralised or will I have to go to each and every mountain rescue website in the hope to find any detail about the accident that occurred at my road-side crag the other week?

> But UKC has no more obligation to do anything than anyone involved in an accident has.  

Of course it has no obligation.  But, as the pre-eminent focus of all climbing related discussion and reporting in the UK it strikes me as an ideal place for it.

Think of this another way; no one gains anything by updating crag details here on UKC.  But they do.  As a result we have a community-produced listing of details about nearly every climbing site in the UK right here.

Why wouldn't a similar page on UKC dedicated to accident reports, maybe moderated, maybe not, also be similarly functional?

 

1
Pan Ron - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Alex Messenger, BMC:

> This unscientific study leads me to believe that it's harder than we think to get people to send in accident reports / info - for all the obvious reasons.

I don't really have an answer to that.  But in contrast to some of the other posters, I think you have to make the database/forum as much for near-misses as actual disasters.

If I screw up my tie-in because my climbing partner insists on discussing his marriage problems, but I notice this just before I climb, there is just as much to be learnt from that near death as there is from a poorly set anchor pulling.

If you emphasise the database is only for serious accidents then all the holes in the swiss-cheese that lead up to serious accidents aren't going to be written about, and those who potentially would report them likely won't as they will feel a bit stupid reporting something so small.

Again, the aviation sector went the other way: 

"Co-pilot reported hotel layover airconditioning was very loud.  Failed to get a good night sleep.  Immediately after take-off they reported to the captain extreme fatigued and backup crew took over". 

"During taxi both pilots distracted by mobile phone ringing from coat-locker.  Checklist wasn't properly conducted.  Aircraft departed uneventfully but cabin crew not correctly communicated with".

Etc. etc.  All mundane stuff, no one harmed.  Potentially all very embarrassing for individuals in question.  But no one thinks twice of reporting as everyone is trained to recognise accidents nearly always occur due to a multitude of events that result in the final crunch.  

The culture needs to change, and that will take time.  But encouraging all reports is necessary.

1
Offwidth - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Pan Ron:

What you are missing here is who funds and carries out the extra analysis work and the benfits over that already done by the various groups across the UK like MRTs. There has never been any significant pushback, that I am aware of, on the benefits of proper accident analysis in climbing, as happens in a more coordinated way in,countries elsewhere. The UKC objection group, often complained about in this respect on UKC, seem to me to be purely imaginary. 

This analysis is in the rather weird context that as climbers we all deliberately choose to take on some risk and sometimes extrordinarily high risk  (as say applies to cave divers)  which is very different to the normal situations applying to pilots, where any risk is normally minimised within the activity. I also think some arguing here exhibit congnitive dissonance on this subect: they enjoy climbing but don't want to admit the risk input to that; they desperately want risk reporting and analysis and seem blithely unaware of what is already out there.

There is  rightly some  'pushback' on UKC against speculative discussions before the accident analysis has even begun ( by MRT etc) and fair and important reports of the effect witnessed of such speculation on those who are grieving; especially that of groundless or poorly informed accusations (on UKC and elsewhere, like the press). There is also clear evidence of distasteful rubbernecking at times on UKC that many object fairly to, in my opinion.

Post edited at 17:36
Offwidth - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Pan Ron:

Just found the most fun of these old posts where Mick was claiming an accident book would be a major blockbuster success and promtly volunteered Grimer to do it at the BMC (instead of making all that money himself). Also that Grimers work on definitives was doomed to obscurity... happy days....

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rocktalk/mountaineers_guide_to_death_and_disaster-608842#x7984602

One important point on how many people read these things was made by Jim Titt, one of the most experienced UKC posters on climbing safety.

" It´s worth considering that the publisher has not considered it financially worthwhile to translate into English the definitive three volumes on mountain risk and accidents, written by a full-time professional mountain safety officer with 32 years experience, backed by the painfully accurate accident statistics and investigation work by the German and Austrian Alpine Clubs Safety Commision (and their seemingly endless wealth) which is currently in it´s 8th edition. Since Rother publish translations of many of their other titles perhaps they feel either the market isn´t interested or the sales are not financially worthwhile. I´ll bet the AAC don´t find sales exactly swell the coffers!"

 

 Some of the UK examples of collated information from  that thread :

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/how-dangerous-are-climbing-and-hill-walking

http://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/information-centre/incident-statistics

http://www.mountain-training.org/latest-news/2014-incidents-and-near-misses

http://www.mcofs.org.uk/research.asp

 

 

Pan Ron - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> What you are missing here is who funds and carries out the extra analysis work and the benfits over that already done by the various groups across the UK like MRTs. 

I don't think you necessarily need to do any analysis.  This isn't a NTSB report, rather just a statement of events as best as they can be recalled.  Maybe its not 100% accurate or maybe only a fraction of what occurred is reported.  But there is a risk of having no solution simply because the free solution possible is not perfect.

> The UKC objection group, often complained about in this respect on UKC, seem to me to be purely imaginary. 

My experience has been different.  I have specifically tried to discuss why's and where's on accident threads and been abruptly shut down.  The response has been prickly in the extreme.  And as the other thread indicates, you only need one or two people to claim mortal offence and that is really enough to alter the tone entirely.

> This analysis is in the rather weird context that as climbers we all deliberately choose to take on some risk and sometimes extrordinarily high risk  (as say applies to cave divers)  which is very different to the normal situations applying to pilots, where any risk is normally minimised within the activity.

That's certainly not the case in paragliding.  The similarities between climbing and PG are very close, unsurprisingly as one sport grew out of the other.  I'd say powered flying was the same prior to the institution of this safety culture.

> There is  rightly some  'pushback' on UKC against speculative discussions before the accident analysis has even begun ( by MRT etc)

Most cases though are never reported, never come near the MRT, and probably don't warrant them. THe bigger problem for me with relying on MRT other than that is that the incidents are so disparately reported and the reporting seems more for a database record of how many callouts they've had rather than to provide particular judgements on why an accident occurred.

 

Pursued by a bear - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Pan Ron: I suspect that your wish for thorough reporting is never going to come about; not in the UK.  Expecting the average climber to report a near miss or experience that will frequently make him or her look like a bit of a tit is expecting too much.

But feel free to report your own.  I may be wrong, and someone has to take the first step.

T.

Pan Ron - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

You may be right, but your description of how a climber might feel may be part of the problem.

We make mistakes.  We do them all the time.  I know a very capable and experienced climber who decked out at my local climbing wall after failing to tie in.

We feel like tits when we have accidents.  We shouldn't feel like tits for reporting them and hopefully preventing others from befalling the same fate.  Perhaps, being sport, this should be all the more so. 

If pilots, who potentially endangered hundreds of lives, can feel free to put their hands up to admit mistakes, then I'm pretty sure a climber can.

Offwidth - on 17 May 2018
In reply to Pan Ron:

Well the experts say analysis is crucial.

Why don't you link some of these threads so we can see where you have been clearly shut down unfairly. Almost anything said on the internet is going to have some fool arguing for the sake of it.

I've aleady linked numerous UK sites with analysis that provides much more efficent learning, and you can add all the MRT sites for raw data.

badgerjockey - on 24 May 2018
In reply to Rob Morgan:

Looks like the idea is to be discussed at the next BMC SW Area meeting...

David Hillebrandt - on 25 May 2018
In reply to badgerjockey:

Badgerjockey thanks for pointing out the role of BMC area meetings. I will not be at the next SW area meeting but can assure people that the BMC is working on this at a national and local level. Despite what several people have hinted I have always found the BMC very helpful on matters such as this for the benefit of the climbing public and with no eye on finance or profit.

Having identified potential problems with rescue in the SW over four years they have put time and hard cash into supporting analysis of local incidents on Dartmoor and on coastal crags. Plans are well advanced on BMC projects to educate climbers and at a national level they are working with SAR organisations.

David Hillebrandt. Hon Medical advisor to BMC.       

n-stacey - on 26 May 2018
In reply to bedspring:

Because they are not a bunch of ambulance chasers and probably respect privacy..

1
Jim C - on 27 May 2018
In reply to Paz:

We tried Lessons Learned at work.

At the end of the Projects  all the positives and negatives were discussed by the represetitives of the various disciplines, but as soon as it came to minuting what/ who caused the problems the representitive of the department 'blamed' often refused to accept the finding of the group and refused point blank to have the finding minuted as being accepted by them.

Therefore, the 'accepted' reports were then very general, about what went wrong and the lessons of how to avoid it in the future were very non specific.

(

but everyone knew it was Engineerings fault;) 

 

 

 

Pan Ron - on 27 May 2018
In reply to Jim C:

That's a real shame.

But it doesn't sound like a problem with the reporting/self-reflection issue itself.  Rather, just piss-poor leadership/management by the department in question if they are going to be that pathetic about taking ownership of failures.


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