Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to see the answer.

Why have a National Incident Database (NID)?

Only by identifying what is actually occurring in the field can organisations respond to situations and improve safety. Therefore organisations need to track incidents and close calls in their programs in order to understand what safety improvements they need to make to enhance the standard of their programme. Some organisations keep no incident records; others keep records on paper, some in spreadsheets, and others in databases. The lack of consistency across data collection means that it is currently impossible to compare types and rates of incidents in any meaningful way across the country or within pursuits. How can we effectively talk about something, if we don't have a common definition/language?

What defines an incident?

An undesired event that could or does result in a harm or loss. The harm or loss may involve harm to people, damage to property, and/or loss to process. In this database, incident is an umbrella term to describe fatality, injury, illness, damage to property, near miss, behavioural/motivational event or a combination of these.

Which incidents should be reported?

An incident should meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • requires more than simple first aid (ie band aid)
  • requires follow up care by a medical professional
  • requires follow up care by a therapist, psychologist or social worker
  • requires use of prescription medications
  • interferes with the person's active participation in the activity
  • requires evacuation from the field
  • requires the loss of a day or more participation (if activity greater than a day)
  • results in a near miss

What is a near miss?

A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage - but had the potential to do so. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage. Remember near misses are a zero cost learning tool: It is a much cheaper learning tool than learning from an actual injury or other form of loss.

The organisation that identifies and resolves near miss incidents of significant severity is generally safer than the one that does not.

What is the point of recording our incidents through the NID rather than creating or using our own database?

Collecting and analyzing incident data should be considered important for all outdoor organisations. Although the locations may be different, many of the activities themselves such as rock climbing, ropes courses, kayaking, tramping, and other outdoor events are much the same, therefore the incidents that occur are usually similar. Bringing together the learning from incidents around New Zealand means that we can help create the most effective solution to any issues that are apparent.

What the NID will mean for Outdoor Organisations?

Building a common database format, using up-to-date database technologies will provide organisations with a useful tool for recording and analyzing their own in-house data. At the same time it means that measurements generated by one organisation can actually be compared (anonymously) against another in a meaningful way. It also creates the possibility of much more extensive research being performed into the causes and responses to incidents, something which would benefit the entire outdoor education/recreation industry.

What does the NID provide?

  • a standard method for collecting and analysing outdoor incident data
  • an easy to use incident-reporting format that meets health and safety legislation requirements for reporting incidents
  • the ability to identify incident trends
  • data that can be used to inform on current and emerging practices
  • an opportunity to contribute to New Zealand's outdoor safety culture.

What are the advantages of utilising the NID?

  • free registration
  • easy online data entry for incident reporting - no need to design and manage your own database. The NID will get regular upgrades & updates to remain current
  • easy generation of reports in a standardised format - standard reports at the click of a button
  • printable version of incident report forms for use in the field
  • presents information on incident trends and causes
  • compares your trends with national trends - a yearly report will provide general trends so you can make comparisons with your organisation.
  • an annual report will summarise the data entered (in a generic sense) which can inform your policies, procedures and practice
  • provides an opportunity to improve your safety management

How much does it cost?

The NID is free to register. MSC expects to keep the NID as a free service, although this relies on obtaining the funding to maintain and improve the database.

I feel uncomfortable about placing potentially sensitive material onto a website - how secure is the data?

The latest security measures have been incorporated into the design and administration of the database and security will be constantly monitored and updated. Any data that you enter can only be seen by the people that have access to your user name and password and the MSC NID administrator.

In addition, we will take care to ensure that if the identity of an individual contributor could possibly be determined from the generic data, then the data will not be available until such time as this can be used with anonymity.

Can the recording of incidents be used against our organisation?

In a court case that relates to an outdoor activity where an organisation or person is being sued for criminal negligence or any information relating to safety management is likely to be used both for and against the organisation. It is more likely that using the NID, recording incidents, identifying trends and tapping into the wider outdoor safety issues through NID reports, will ensure a safer operation and demonstrate that you are managing the risk associated with the activity/activities.

Note: It is a legal requirement for commercial and educational organisations to maintain an incident register.

I am a commercial operator; what difference will it make to our bottom line?

Insurance companies are nationwide entities, the National Incident Database could help demonstrate that the risk levels in outdoor education/recreation are much less than other areas of activity, such as competitive sports, which could encourage companies both to provide insurance and to reduce their rates. Nationwide use of the NID will help produce information that could be used for this purpose.

Why do we have to record the potential severity of an incident?

The severity scale provides a common system for rating incidents. The reason for recording the potential severity as well as the actual severity is in the situation where things could have been far worse if things had gone a little differently. For example; a group of sea kayakers get hit by a severe wind while rounding a head land, several capsize, but people are only in the (cold) water for 2 minutes before a passing boat stops and helps everyone to safety. There was no injury and because of the quick pick up, only minor psychological impact. The 'actual' severity may only rate between a '2' or '3' on the severity (due to the psychological stress). If the boat had not passed by at that time and conditions worsened there may have been severe hypothermia or possibly multiple deaths which would rate between "7" - "10". In this situation the incident would warrant further analysis because of the high potential for serious consequences.

What does MSC need to make the NID work?

We require:

  • Active participation from the whole outdoor sector; outdoor centres/providers, national organisations, recreational clubs, schools, tertiary education organisations, adventure tourism and ski field operators.
  • A culture of openness and a willingness to share incidents without judgement.

We need you to spread the word - please tell others about the National Incident Database.