UPLOADS First Key Issue Report: CAMPCRAFT


We are pleased to present our first Key Issue Report: Campcraft. Campcraft-related injuries, near misses and illnesses emerged within the UPLOADS first 12-month dataset as frequently occurring incidents with potentially severe outcomes. The aims of this report are:

  1. to present the findings from an analysis of the campcraft-related incident data contributed to the UPLOADS National Incident Dataset in the period between the 1st of June 2014 and 31st May 2015;
  2. to provide a holistic and in-depth understanding of the campcraft-related incidents; and
  3. to promote discussion within the sector regarding potential prevention strategies and countermeasures.

Please click here to download the report

The UPLOADS project is a major collaboration between the Australian led outdoor activity sector, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Federation University. The ultimate aim is to better understand and prevent incidents that occur during led outdoor activities.

We would like to acknowledge the sector’s critical role in producing the dataset described in this report. Without the continued involvement of the sector, it is not possible for UPLOADS to produce any meaningful analyses. We would like to thank our funding partners and also those who went above and beyond the call to contribute incident data to the UPLOADS Project. We greatly appreciate your support! We would also like to thank all those who provided feedback on the draft – your comments and suggestions were greatly appreciated. We have endeavored to address all of them.

If you have any questions about the campcraft report or would like to talk to the UPLOADS team, please do not hesitate to contact Amanda Clacy (aclacy@usc.edu.au), Paul Salmon (psalmon@usc.edu.au), or myself (mvanmulk@usc.edu.au).


Posted in Outputs, Systems thinking, UPLOADS

On the road with UPLOADS



The UPLOADS Project team hit the road last week, facilitating a workshop for The Outdoor Education Group and attending the Outdoors Victoria H2R Conference.

The workshop was a great success! Professor Paul Salmon and Clare Dallat gave an engaging presentation on systems thinking, demonstrating the importance and significance of bridging the research-practice gap in led outdoor activities. This was the first time this workshop was presented, giving workshop participants the chance to apply the systems approach to more than just accidents. A big thanks to The Outdoor Education Group for hosting this workshop, and to everyone who participated! VicWorkshop1

If you would like to organise a workshop for your organisation, please contact Paul Salmon (psalmon@usc.edu.au) or Amanda Clacy (aclacy@usc.edu.au).


Our next stop was the Outdoors Victoria H2R Catalyst Conference at Federation University in Ballarat. The UPLOADS Project team and our PhD students all gave presentations throughout this conference and were very grateful for the opportunity to connect with active members of the sector.

In case you missed it, follow the links below for a short summary of some of the UPLOADS presentations.

Outdoors Victoria did a great job hosting this catalyst event! Thank you for the chance to be involved!

Conference and workshop opportunities are a vital part of the UPLOADS Project. Not only does it give our research team a chance to break away from behind their computers and discuss the project and face-to-face with our key stakeholders, they also present invaluable opportunities for us to present updates on the project, provide a casual platform for Q&A, and also give us a chance to attend other presentations to remain engaged with the sector and trials and tribulations you all face in your work.

As always, if you would like to contact the UPLOADS team you can email us at uploadsproject@usc.edu.au with any questions, queries, or comments you have. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Until next time, stay safe!

p.s. click here to read our latest newsletter!

Posted in Uncategorized

All Burnt Out: Extinguishing Old Assumptions around Outdoor Cooking

Read on for an insightful practitioner’s first-hand perspective on ways to address some of the issues raised around campcraft incidents, as highlighted in the UPLOADS 12 month national incident dataset…

campcraft foto


Clare Dallat

Director of Risk Resolve,

The Outdoor Education Group

Partner Investigator – UPLOADS Project

Think back to when you were learning the skills to work professionally in the outdoors.  You would probably have spent a fair bit of time and effort on the learning and practicing of your technical skills development (your J stroke in canoeing, or your protection placement on a slab, for example). It is probable that much less time and focus would be spent on considering and practicing cooking and campfire safety.

As a young practitioner learning my trade in both the UK and the USA, I consider myself lucky (although I didn’t know it then) to have been instructed very early on about the importance of stove safety. Part of this learning included stories and first hand recollections of severe burns from pots tipping over and spilling contents onto the upper thighs, torsos and in some cases, feet of participants and staff. Standard operating procedures included diagrams of how to position your cooking ‘kitchen’ and tools (stoves, fuel etc). There were strict non-negotiables hammered into us by our managers and trainers – for example, no sitting cross-legged in front of a stove, and close-toed shoes must always be worn in the kitchen.

However, according to the data emerging from the 12 month trial of UPLOADS, this component of led outdoor activities is most definitely worthy of further consideration and analysis on a sector wide scale. Interestingly, the idea for this blog opinion piece originated prior to the release of the above-mentioned trial. It came about from discussions of a collective group of outdoor risk managers from multiple Australian organisations who study and review incidents in their workplace. Specifically, we were observing that burns injuries from cooking were occurring within all our organisations. To then not long after, see that national, de-identifiable and self-reported incident data from other schools and organisations mirrored our collective organisation’s experiences, only endorsed the desire to open a discussion and re-evaluate our collective assumptions and practices around cooking on led outdoor programs. This post is an attempt at that.



Over a period of 12 months (1st of June 2014 – 31st of May 2015), a total of 114 incidents were reported under the category of “campcraft”. Campcraft is the category which describes actions around cooking and campfires. Of these incidents, 69 were injury-causing. Of note, campcraft was the 2nd highest category of injury-causing incidents reflected in the overall data; reporting an injury –causing incidence rate of almost 6 incidents per 1000 participants. Interestingly, the average overall injury-causing incidence rate was 2.1 incidents per 1000 participants. This means that there was approximately 3.5 more injury-causing incidents reported for every thousand participants involved in campcraft activities, compared to all led outdoor activities overall. A problem obviously exists.

Of the injuries involving the activity of campcraft, 30% (n=21) were from burns. Of the injuries that occurred to the wrist, hand and lower extremities (n= 58), 33% (n=19) were from burns. All reported injuries to the hip, thigh, knee and lower leg were caused by burns.

The vast majority of injuries were minor where care and treatment requirements were localised and the impact of the injury resulted in short-term effects.

Contributing Factors

The most frequently identified factors contributing to campcraft related injuries, illnesses and near miss incidents within the UPLOADS data were reported as:

  • Equipment, Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment (identified in 58% of incidents analysed);
  • Activity Participant Experience and Competence (identified in 33% of incidents analysed);
  • Activity Participant Judgement and Decision-making (identified in 31% of incidents analysed); and;
  • Food and Drink (identified in 28% of incidents analysed).

Although the most frequently reported contributing factors were located primarily at the ‘sharp end’ (e.g. the instructor and participant, and equipment levels) of the system, higher order (or organisational/management) factors were also reported (albeit minimally). These were factors related to:

  • Field Managers: Activity and Program Design (identified in 8.3% of incidents analysed) and;
  • Parents and Carers: Communication (identified in 5.6% of incidents analysed).

This data may demonstrate a lack of understanding or awareness of how managerial or organisational decisions, policy guidance (e.g. standard operating practices around cooking, active role for accompanying staff), and actions (e.g. staff training), may contribute to the prevention of injuries during campcraft activities.


The Other Kind of Data – From Experience and Observation

In my current role working with schools and organisations auditing and reviewing their risk management systems and practices, I benefit immensely from multiple accounts and first-hand descriptions of incidents and injuries. In this work, I see a lot of different campsites, cooking on stoves, as well as the management of campfires.

As a Risk Manager at The Outdoor Education Group for 12 years, I was also responsible for developing and reviewing policies in relation to such activities with the help and assistance of many others. Additionally, I investigated my fair share of incidents in this area.

Finally, expert witness experience has enabled a personal perspective to be gained from cooking incidents that have led to long and painful consequences, on both the injured participants and their families, and on the staff and organisations involved.


Case Studies

In order to highlight both the reality and the seriousness of burns (in immediate and long term consequences), a number of real case studies and incident synopses are provided below.

Case Study 1

A group of four silver Duke of Edinburgh students were accompanied by a freelance staff member, hired by the school for the first time. The staff member was told by the School that the students were very competent with camping and cooking and that they didn’t need ‘very strict’ supervision in these activities. The staff member’s job was to make sure they didn’t get lost on the bushwalk. The staff member permitted to the students to commence cooking on the first evening and maintained auditory communication with them whilst she set up her tent. Unfortunately soon after commencing cooking, one of the students suffered full thickness burns to a significant percentage of her body due to an exploding fuel bottle that was left sitting open next to the stove.  Over ten years later, the student continues to suffer significant physical and psychological harm as a result of her injuries.

There were no SOP’s or risk assessments for the activity of cooking. All students did not have experience cooking or using stoves; one for example had never seen a Trangia stove before. There was no pre-activity briefing or competency assessment regarding use of stoves.

Case Study 2

A group of students on Day 8 of a 10 day rafting trip were camped on the banks of the river. They were Year 11 students and had been participating in outdoor education programs for several years.  The groups were ‘self-catering’ for the program and as such, planned and cooked their own food in small groups. The kitchen was set up and a ‘cooking circle’ rope was used to delineate the cooking zone in all the separate cooking groups (only the two cooks could be inside this area). The two supervising staff were cooking their food nearby. One group was waiting on their water to boil and the two students were sitting opposite each other and cross-legged in front of the stove. One student leaned over to check the water and when lifting the lid accidently dropped it, causing the pot to become unbalanced and boiling water to land in the torso/upper thigh area of the student sitting on the opposite side. The student suffered serious burns to the affected area and was urgently evacuated. He made a recovery however still has physical scars as a result of his injuries.

 There were detailed SOP’s regarding stove use which stated that participants were not permitted to sit in front of stoves. The SOP’s called for a position that enabled one to move away quickly in the event it was required (e.g. a squatting position). Due to the trip being almost over, the age and competence of the students in cooking and no prior incidents, the supervisory team became more relaxed in the risk management controls around cooking.

Case Study 3

A group of students were on a bike trip and on lunch on Day 3, the group decided to have hot chocolate at a picnic area. The stove and pot full of boiling water were sitting on the picnic table and the students were seated around the table. It started to rain and two students got up suddenly from the table to get their raincoats, causing the pot to move and fall off the table, spilling the contents onto the groin of one of the students. He suffered full thickness burns and was evacuated via ambulance where he later underwent surgery.

 There were no SOP’s or risk assessments relating to cooking on picnic tables, however there was an organisational policy relating to the number of participants in the cooking circle. The staff considered that these policies were related to cooking main meals at campsites as that was what they had learned in their tertiary training. The management staff who write the policies had not previously considered the risk of using stoves on picnic tables.


In researching for this post and speaking with other practitioners and risk managers, I know personally of another six incidents where participants were burned – some seriously – with pots falling off stoves and contents spilling onto bodies. The injuries range from burns to feet (3) (closed toed shoes were not worn in these incidents), burns to the groin (1) and burns to the hands (2).


Emerging Themes

With the benefit of analysis and non-judgemental reflection, some common themes surrounding cooking safety emerge both from these incidents, and from observational experience. The following are a few key ones:

  1. Cooking is treated like an action, not an ‘activity’

Cooking is conducted every day and in many cases, after an initial ‘brief’, it is afforded a more relaxed approach to supervision. Yet, the data (both validated through UPLOADS and that personally experienced) paints a picture of cooking incidents being a real concern (the fact that the UPLOADS data shows that the incidents resulting in only minor injuries is most definitely not a reason to do nothing, as these real examples display the potential harm as a result).

  1. General lack of policy around seating position in front of stoves

There are general standard operating practices in many schools and organisations around having ‘cooking circles’ (to minimise human traffic and congestion in the kitchen) or ‘refuelling zones’ (a separate place to refuel a stove), yet little exists around seating position in front of a stove. As this is a foreseeable hazard with potential for real and serious harm, organisationally, it is absolutely vital to have a clear and known practice in relation to accepted position around stoves – in my own opinion, I advocate a squatting position with something soft to protect the knee so that it is both comfortable cooking but importantly, the cook is able to move away quickly in the event of spills. (I realise some practitioner’s consider this to be an uncomfortable position for participants to maintain however, in my own experience, I don’t believe this is a sufficient reason to allow sitting in front of stoves).

  1. Risk Assessments are not specific in relation to cooking hazards

If cooking is represented in risk assessments, it is typically allocated a one liner in relation to the source of hazard (stoves), the potential harmful outcome (burns), and the risk controls (supervise students). It would perhaps be more effective, given the incident statistics and the potential for serious injury associated with the activity of cooking, to discuss all the reasonably foreseeable ways that someone could be injured associated with cooking, followed by what can be done about it. It would again treat cooking as an activity and not solely an action.

  1. General lack of policy direction around stove position

A common area of policy perspective between professionals who received their training in Australia, compared with those who hail from overseas (primarily the USA and Canada) is the different of opinion around stoves being only placed on the ground. My own opinion, backed up only and unashamedly, with personal experience and knowledge of specific incidents, is to not permit dependent groups to cook and sit off the ground at picnic tables (for the exact reasons outlined in Case Study 3).

  1. Cooking, heat and food preparation is a foreign activity to many students

Many of us report that our students are not that adept at chopping vegetables or in knowing the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber. The activity of cooking can be quite foreign to students and is not something they do a lot of at home. It is questionable as to the level of hazard awareness they would have around the camp kitchen and the ability to recognise when a situation is hazardous. In some cases, motor skills (such as those needed to manoeuvre pot grippers etc.) can be severely lacking.

  1. Supervision is not generally a ‘team effort’ around cooking

Within technical activities and in other aspects of an outdoor education program, the supervisory team often has an agreed approach and facilitates the activity as a team. There is generally an agreed understanding of roles, boundaries and a combined approach. Within cooking, this can sometimes be missing. In fact, the time when cooking dinner occurs is sometimes used as a rest period for a staff member. It is their ‘time out’. It may also coincide with scheduled call-in times back to base. Supervision is a key component in activities that are unfamiliar and where there is the potential for harm to occur. Consequently, I would argue that cooking certainly fits this bill and is a time when supervision should be direct and ‘tight’. If the rest and scheduled call-ins need to wait till the heat is turned off, so be it.


What Now?

This post is specifically associated with using stoves however there are certainly similarities associated with campfire safety. It is intended to highlight an area that both the UPLOADS data and personal experience informs us, requires further reflection and consideration of our practices. As we know, accidents and incidents in complex systems are caused by multiple factors and there is no such thing as a root cause. It would be far too simplistic (and wrong) to blame the freelancer in Case Study 1 or the student in Case Study 2. The manager in Case Study 3 who wrote the SOP’s would likely not have been thinking about policies around stoves on picnic benches, and the risk of boiling water spilling from such heights.

All the incidents described above, as well as every single number reflected in the UPLOADS data, reflects an injury to someone. As such, they also represent the real opportunity for learning and reflection.

Preparing and cooking a meal together is perhaps one of the most powerful and memorable aspects of any program.  Our participants are invited to assume real ownership of their choices and actions, and the camp kitchen is a place where real social connections and learning can occur. For us, as professionals however, it is also a place where our collective risk management strategies must be directly focused on the areas where foreseeable harm could and, as experience and data both tell us, has occurred.

In short, safety around sources of heat must be an integral component in any outdoor risk management plan.                                                                                                                                                           


Clare Dallat is a Partner Investigator on the UPLOADS project. She feels strongly about the importance of applying both rigorous research and implementing these findings in a practical, achievable way to maximise the benefits for all participants in led outdoor activity programs. Practicing what she preaches, Clare is engaged in an APA-funded PhD program to develop a practical risk assessment tool that identifies and manages risks at all stages involved with the design, preparation and delivery of led outdoor activity programs. She also leads Risk Resolve, a risk management service assisting schools and organisations to further improve their risk and crisis management systems. Clare can be contacted at: dallatc@oeg.edu.au
Posted in Uncategorized

NOEC Conference Recap


On behalf of the UPLOADS team, I would like to thank both the organisers of the 2016 National Outdoor Education Conference for putting on an enjoyable and educational event and the University of the Sunshine Coast for hosting it.

Professor Paul Salmon and PhD candidates Clare Dallat, Tony Carden, and Brian Thoroman all did a wonderful job presenting their research to conference attendees. For those of you who were unable to attend, Prof Salmon gave an exciting overview of the 12 month report which presents the findings from the first 12 months of data collection using the UPLOADS software tool. From this report and Paul’s presentation, we learnt lots of interesting information regarding injuries, illnesses, and near miss incidents in the led outdoor sector. Being more than just an industry first application of the systems approach to incident reporting for the outdoor sector, these findings will go on to inform the development of countermeasures as well as the next 12 months of data collection.

Clare, Tony, and Brian also presented interesting and engaging updates on their PhD research projects which are apply a systems approach to risk assessments (NO-HARMS), understanding legislation and regulation, and improving the reporting of near miss incidents in the led outdoor sector.

Michelle and I had a great time meeting everyone at the exhibition stand, and have been overjoyed by the number of follow up emails we have been receiving! Remember if you would like to learn more about UPLOADS or how to get involved with the project, please email us at uploadsproject@usc.edu.au

The UPLOADS steering committee also met up during the conference to discuss the progress, impact, and future directions of the project. Lots of exciting things were nutted out, so I encourage you all to watch this space!

Before I sign off for this post, I would just like to mention that we are still chasing a few lovely outdoor educators to complete the current survey to evaluate incident prevention strategiesThis shouldn’t take too much of your time, and is a vital step in ensuring that the strategies that are proposed are practical, appropriate, and relevant for the sector!

We are looking forward to catching up with you at the Outdoors Victoria conference in May 2016!

Until then, stay safe!

Posted in Events, Invitations to participate in research, News, UPLOADS

First 12 Month Report!



We are pleased to present our twelve-month report from the UPLOADS National Incident Dataset, which presents the data from the first 12 months of the national trial.

Please click here to download the report

The UPLOADS project is a major collaboration between the Australian led outdoor activity sector, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Federation University. The ultimate aim is to better understand and prevent the injury incidents that occur during led outdoor activities.

We would like to acknowledge the sector’s critical role in producing the dataset described in this report. Without the continued involvement of the sector, it is not possible for UPLOADS to produce any meaningful analyses. We would like to thank our funding partners and also those who went above and beyond the call to contribute incident data to the UPLOADS Project. We greatly appreciate your support! We would also like to thank all those who provided feedback on the draft – your comments and suggestions were greatly appreciated. We have endeavored to address all of them.

If you’ve got any questions about the report, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The UPLOADS Research Team



 Funders logos

Posted in Uncategorized

UPLOADS team changes


A big hello to our project partners and funders and contributors to the  UPLOADS project!

As some of you may be aware, the UPLOADS team from the University of the Sunshine Coast has had a few changes, and I just wanted to take a moment to introduce ourselves. Since the wonderful Dr Natassia Goode left on maternity leave, we have welcomed two new research fellows onto the project.


Dr Michelle van Mulken has a Bachelor Degree in Health Science, a Master Degree in Health Promotion and PhD in Public Health with 10 years of experience in the Health Care sector and 3 years of volunteering experience at Outdoor Kids & Youth Camps in Europe. In her role on the UPLOADS project Michelle will be primarily involved with the continued running of the National Incident Dataset. Michelle is also running the countermeasures evaluations which are based on the information you have provided and the workshops that were run with sector representatives in 2015.


Amanda Clacy has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology (with honors) and has completed a PhD on sport-related concussion in junior contact football. In her role on the UPLOADS project Amanda will be primarily involved with applying what we have learnt from UPLOADS to produce a structured process to support organisations in translating incident reporting system outputs into appropriate and effective injury countermeasures. The process will be developed in consultation with a diverse range of organisations and will be generic, and will thus support injury prevention activities both in the LOA sector and across safety critical domains more generally.


We would also like to congratulate Natassia and Miles on the arrival of their baby boy, Tristan Thomas, born on 01 March 2016. Everyone is happy and healthy, and we here at the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems are overjoyed with the new addition to the team!!

We look forward to meeting you all throughout the year, and working towards a safe and adventurous future in LOA.  If you have any questions or would like to talk to the UPLOADS team, please do not hesitate to contact Michelle (MVanMulk@usc.edu.au), Paul Salmon (psalmon@usc.edu.au), or myself (aclacy@usc.edu.au).



Posted in News, UPLOADS

Evaluate Strategies To Tackle Key Safety Issues In The Led Outdoor Activity Sector: Your Input Is Needed!

Evaluating Strategies To Tackle Key Safety Issues In The Led Outdoor Activity Sector:

We need your help!

The UPLOADS project is a major collaboration between the Australian led outdoor activity sector, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Federation University. The ultimate aim is to better understand and prevent the injury incidents that occur during led outdoor activities. Click here to see our valued project partners and funders.

As part of the UPLOADS project, we would like to invite you to participate in a survey to evaluate incident prevention strategies that were developed by the sector based on the UPLOADS incident data. Specifically two workshops were held involving a range of stakeholders from the outdoor activity sector in which they developed incident prevention strategies based on the analysis of UPLOADS incident data.

Your input is critical to ensure that the strategies that are proposed are practical, appropriate, and relevant for the sector!

All organised outdoor activity stakeholders from the following organisations are invited to participate:

  • Primary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Outdoor education/recreation providers
  • Outdoor training organisation (e.g. RTO, TAFE, University)
  • Outdoor professional/peak bodies
  • Workplace health and safety regulator
  • Government agencies

Please read the Participant Information Sheet for further information. If you wish to participate please download the Strategy Evaluation Survey. Surveys need to be completed by the 15th of March.

When you have completed the survey, please return your responses to uploadsproject@usc.edu.au.


If you have any questions or concerns please contact Michelle van Mulken:

E: mvanmulk@usc.edu.au  T: (07) 5456 5404.

(This research has ethics approval (A/15/730) through the University of the Sunshine Coast)

UPLOADS teamwork


Posted in Invitations to participate in research, UPLOADS
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