DeKUT Directorate of Student Welfare

Better Life through Technology

Safety awareness tips

The educational goals are for each expediter to be able to identify, mitigate and develop a respect for common outdoor hazards. They should also understand their own technical, physical and psychological limitations when traversing through a challenging or hazardous terrain. They should understand how subjective and objective hazards interact to lessen a group’s safety margin.

 General concepts; Mountain hazards fall into 2 categories:

Objective hazards 

 These are part of the natural (Environmental) process.

They include(but are not limited to) darkness,weather changes, and rock-fall,

moving water, lightning strikes, steep terrain, bog, thorns,stinging insects and plants, snow, reduced visibility, obstruction,

slippery ice, loose scree, wet surfaces, aggressive wild animals, and forest fires

Subjective hazards

They are caused by the human attributes of a mountain traveler. They include

(but are not limited to) ignorance, complacency, fatigue, confusion,

position behavior, overconfidence, unrealistic goals, impatience, peer pressure,

acting on misinformation or too little information, anxiety, not heeding to warnings or directions,

negative attitudes and dispositions, sleepy condition, distractions and laxity.

Mt. Kenya has more than its fair share of both objective and subjective hazards. If we have to lessen the chances of accidents we would need to learn to recognize and manage hazards. Listen to and obey all instructions of an expert. Be conservative when hiking on uneven terrain and understand the limitations of ourselves and the group.

Dynamics of accidents theory
This was developed by Alan Hale of the National safety Network (U.S.A.) He divided accident potential into 2 broad areas that interact to  produce accidents;

See below:-

Environmental hazards + Human factors=Potenti`al of an accident

The greater the overlap the greater the accident potential,
•    The combination of a wet uneven terrain and a human acting in haste creates the potential for a fall,
•     Boiling water on a stove (objective) and a distracted cook (Subjective) creates the potential for a burn.
•    A hasty driver on a cell-phone conversation  (subjective) driving on a dark, rainy narrow congested alley (objectives) creates an almost 360 degree exposure to an accident.
•    On a more positive note; a pot of water on a stable stove with an attentive cook and a neat kitchen lessens the potential for an accident

Just before the end of our Dekut instructor training program, I paused a few questions to the instructor trainees. And now because safety begins with you, I feel that every participant needs to ponder over these last 2 questions from the instructors’ examination:-


Study the Venn diagram and answer the questions below: -

alan hales model


# 1. giving suitable examples from outdoor experiences, explain how the two broad areas interact to generate accidents, then go ahead and suggest ways by which the chances of accidents could be reasonably reduced or managed.
# 2. As an outdoor instructor and risk manager, outline the procedures that you would undertake towards the development of a nearly safe climbing situation.

Authored by;
Mwai Kennedy, Outdoor instructor.

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