Safety Abroad – Gapforce passes BS 8848 compliance

Safety and customer satisfaction are our guiding principals at Gapforce and we are delighted to share the news that we have recently passed an external assessment of our operating standards, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to both safety and good practice.

Understanding Risk

In order to mitigate risk, it is first of all important to understand it. Ventures that include adventurous activities involve exposure to accepted elements of risk, challenge and adventure greater than those normally encountered in everyday life. Whilst such activities provided by Gapforce are subject to exacting safety management processes, it cannot be guaranteed that all possibility of resultant injury to participants, or others, is eliminated

BS 8848: v2014

As part of our ongoing commitment to safety and customer satisfaction, we follow the guidelines of the British Standard BS 8848 “a specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the UK”. These rigorous standards were originally published in 2007 and enhanced further in 2014 to provide a recognised benchmark against which to assess the acceptability of safety and general good practice on overseas expeditions.

YET Full System Evaluation

In November 2019, we tested our self-declaration of conformity to BS 8848 by inviting members of the Young Explorer’s Trust (YET) evaluation team to conduct a full system evaluation of our operating procedures for our leader led Gap Year and School Group trips.

This comprehensive exercise involved submitting 78 different items of evidence in advance of a full day audit meeting. The process covered the following key areas:

  • The aims & objectives of the venture
  • The quality of the venture in terms of personal development opportunities that may be achieved through proposed adventure and projects
  • Pre-booking information
  • The selection of participants
  • The competence and experience of the leadership team
  • Third party provision
  • Risk Analysis and Management System (RAMS)
  • Crisis and Incident Management Plans
  • Insurance and finance arrangements
  • Environmental concerns.

Who are the YET

The YET is a national charity dedicated to promoting safe and responsible expeditions for young people for over 35 years. Gapforce uses YET as a competent, external and independent “other party” assessor of their conformity to British Standard BS 8848 as laid down in the specification. The assessment includes a sampling process for verification, but all ventures are subject to self-assessment in accordance with the standard. YET is not acting, of itself, as the arbiter of the quality of provision, but assesses provision by Gapforce against the standard to give assurance of good management practice

What’s next?

Having successfully passed the inspection we are now a YET Approved Provider. This external validation provides an extra layer of comfort that we are following the highest of industry standards with regards to safety and good practice for our Gap Year and School Group trips.

Safety & customer satisfaction remain at the heart of what we do, and we shall use this accreditation as a foundation for continuous self-assessment and development.

About the Author

Gapforce