UIAA bolsters commitment to studying accidents and incidents in the mountains

Mountaineering, Safety, UIAA

For a significant period, the UIAA has sought to create an international database of accidents and incidents (‘near misses’) in the mountains. A considerable amount of time and effort has been dedicated by a number of individuals from UIAA Commissions and UIAA member associations. However the project, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has stalled and with the desire to offer the climbing and mountaineering community greater information on such an important topic, the UIAA has formed a Working Group to oversee and ensure the delivery and future continuation of the project.

The UIAA’s aim is to create an accident and incident platform (database) to:

  • Facilitate the exchange and compilation of data about accidents and incidents in climbing and mountaineering worldwide, in support of risk management and accident prevention
  • Support and encourage member federations to develop and implement compatible accident and incident reporting systems, in order to get more and better data on climbing and mountaineering accidents and their causes
  • Support the safety related work of UIAA Commissions by compiling accident and incident data from national reporting systems

The immediate aim of the Working Group (in order of execution) is to:

  1. Create an overview of pre-existing work on accident reporting and analyses of accident reports, including the reports produced by the Mountaineering Commission since 2008
  2. Compile information about existing, national systems and processes for accident and incident reporting relating to climbing and mountaineering; including information on their uptake and how they work; the data and information they are able to provide.
  3. Develop UIAA recommendations on accident reporting, including recommendations on common parameters and vocabularies, design of reporting forms and mobile apps, how to establish and operate accident reporting systems for federations who do not already have such systems, and how to communicate data and analysis results. The UIAA recommendations could be in the form of specific advice on particular topics, a best practice document, or some level of standardisation.
  4. Produce information papers on trends, causes, and other characteristics of climbing and mountaineering accidents, based on data from the national reporting systems that exist.
  5. Establish agreements on exchange of information from reporting systems.

The work will involve experts from the following UIAA Commissions: Medical, Mountaineering, Safety and Training.

UIAA Management Committee member Stein Tronstad (President of the Norwegian Climbing Federation), is one of the working group leads, and explains the importance of the project:
As much as we enjoy climbing and mountaineering, we must acknowledge the risks and the losses inflicted by accidents. To reduce those losses it is important that we learn from the accidents and incidents that do happen, and that is why good and broad accident reporting is vital. With this work we are hoping to inspire best practices among our member federations, and to widely convey what can be learned from the many good reporting systems that already exist.”

Any UIAA members interested in supporting the project are invited to contact Carol Kahoun.

Main image: Stock library