Institute of Expert Witnesses

Providing specialist advice and support in accident cases

The Institute of Expert Witnesses offers professional impartial and independent advice and provides qualified expert opinions to support the legal process of resolving cases of accidents and injury.


This is first of a series of blogs where our Chairman William Duncan MacKay IFMGA, ISIA & FRGS looks at the Safe System of training/ operating in the Adventure Tourism sector. The evidence can be analyzed against an established safe system identified below as The Safe System. A model that can be referred to when considering most accident in this sector.

The Safe System of Training/ Operating is a safety management analysis protocol the consists of 4 separate elements where the hazards have been assessed and the consequent control measures have been integrated, at a high level, into formal procedures, in order to reduce the inherent risks to as low as is reasonably practicable (within the constraints imposed by the operational imperative). The 4 elements of the Safe System has had recently a fifth element introduced, and we begin today in this first of 5 blogs to consider. “Safe Culture” is the overall concept and we will look at other elements in subsequent blogs.

When looking at this element we must consider that The Safe System of Training / operating can/ is used to evaluate the operation/ incident where the injury and/ or damage occurred and evaluate whether or not the operating culture/ organization have a: 

Safe Culture. This is not physically quantifiable; it refers to an atmosphere of safe working culture intended to be established by an employer to assist in reducing risk to as low a risk that is reasonably practicable. Heuristic Traps occur when the simple rules we use are influenced by factors not relevant to the actual hazards; it is possible that establishing such a work/ life culture of safety in an organisation can influence the factors that allow Heuristic Traps to develop. It may be present in this action and an area of consideration the court may wish to explore.  

IEW experts who specialise in accident investigation have used the 4 elements of the Safe System as a tool to identify what happened, how it happened and why it happened and this recently introduced fifth element of the model, that we have looked at today in this blog, being: “Safe Culture” the does not allow “Heuristic Traps” to develop.

Look out for subsequent blogs when we address the other elements of the Safe System.

An article signed by our Chairman, William Duncan MacKay IFMGA, ISIA & FRGS.

For any questions regarding Safe Systems or if you need expert witness advice on a case in the Adventure Tourism industry, please do not hesitate to contact our Expert Witnesses on 0117 986 2194 or at

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