Can you imagine such a thing? No piles of inspection sheets, check logs and equipment manuals. If you’re in the outdoor industry, the thought of not having that piece of paper is probably both exciting and terrifying.
At Flying Fox Neemrana alone we have over 250 individual items of personal protective equipment, PPE for short, such as harnesses and pulleys etc.
That’s 250 unique serial numbers & dates but it doesn’t stop there as each item of PPE is checked, and logged as checked, each calendar month. Let’s say each item lasts around 3 years and over that period gets checked 36 times, that’s 9000 data points, so we’re looking at around 750 pieces of paper for one zip tour, for one cycle of PPE. We have 4 zip tours.
And it gets worse. PPE isn’t the only thing we check each month, there’s 18 zip wires, each with many individual components, 40 monthly instructor assessments in a variety of rescues and we perform in-house and third party site inspections and training courses.
Add to this swirling vortex of inspections multiple inspectors and therefore the inevitable mistake here and there… You have yourself a nightmare from which you’ll likely never return.
But wait! If, like me, you joined this outdoor industry specifically to avoid paperwork, fear not; we have found a solution! Over the last couple of months we’ve started implementing a paperless system… and it’s working.
Papertrail has been developed by some clever outdoorsy guys in North Wales, UK, close to where I had my first forays into the outdoors over two decades ago. It’s an equipment inspection app designed specifically to bring the adventure sports industry into the 21st century.
With this app we can simply and easily record every item, log checks, write notes and attach files and photos, all from your phone/tablet. It’s extremely intuitive, easy to use and doesn’t even require a regular internet connection, which is crucial for our locations.
Moreover we’ve found this app to be incredibly flexible and not limited to equipment alone. Thanks to this flexibility our next task is to log employee contracts, first aid qualifications, as well as our dynamic risk management system, which I won’t bore you with here…
Before you fall off your chair and start praising the app gods it gets even better – it actually tells my staff what to do. Each of our senior instructors has the app on their phone and each week it notifies them on which items are close to being overdue an inspection. Compare this to a pile of paperwork, which invites nothing more that the thought of bludgeoning oneself to death the 2012-13 quarantined PPE folder.
The reason all of this is a big deal is because of the people involved, myself included. Forgive the stereotype, but typically administration isn’t an outdoor instructors strong suit. Safety conscious, absolutely, talented mountaineers, for sure, but I doubt many of us would list organisational skills or microsoft office on the resume.
Making these tedious tasks as simple as possible will not only improve the working life of our staff, it makes it easier to get safety right.
Oh, and it saves paper 🙂