I have just returned from WTC at Maldon and in due course I will report to you on discussions that took place between myself and Colin Scott, the Australian Trials commissioner, and myself and Thierry Michaud, FIM Trials commission director. It is perhaps fitting that I make announcements first at the workshop in Wellington at the MNZ AGM next month. These announcements will not be monumental and it is of little consequence if I wait until then. In the meantime I have been composing my thoughts around the area of compliance and non compliance. I have written a couple of pages that I would like you all to read in the hope that you better understand my [and MNZs] role in your sport.
Please read attached:
Jim Henderson for Moto Trials
Risk management and risk taking by Jim Henderson from Moto Trials, MNZ
Recently I have been contemplating the deeper meaning of life and thought that you may like to share. Mine has been a change of focus from one who used to strive to ride well to one who now strives to serve well. Serving you has had its pleasures and frustrations and two recurring complaints that are directed at the administering body, MNZ, are constantly ‘in my ear’. These complaints revolve around supposed excess costs and compliance rules that some of you deem unnecessary.
I want to give you my take on compliance rules. Most of you that are reading this I would consider as risk takers. You drive your car on the road or ride your bike over a rock. Both practices contain an element of risk which would make you a risk taker. I used to primarily be a risk taker. Now, as a representative of MNZ, I am required to be a risk manager. What is the difference? The risk taker is possibly going to suffer the consequences of a poor decision or bad luck but usually without liability. The risk manager may not personally suffer any physical consequences of poor decision or bad luck but could suffer liability penalties in the form of fines or worse. As a risk manager I am looking at the event through different ‘eyes’ than the risk taker.
Trials riders continually tell me that there is very little risk in our sport. While I agree that the risk is minimal when compared to, say motorcycle road racing let me give 2 real examples of risk that I have seen in the last 2 years that could have led to serious liability.
Example 1. Last week we were told at riders briefing about a cattle beast that had poor eyesight and needed to be kept behind a CLOSED gate. About 15 minutes later I rode through the gateway. The gate was OPEN. What was the risk: A short sighted animal that wanders onto a busy road and is hit by a passing motorist? Who is liable…MNZ, the risk manager
Example 2. A year or so ago I was riding up a steep hill in S. I. when I dislodged a rock about the size of a soft ball. The rock picked up a lot of speed and hit Stef Downes, who was looking at the section below. Luckily Stef survived it well and outcomes were OK. What if it was a spectator? What if it was a death? Who is liable….MNZ.
Why am I telling you this? I am appealing to you to consider as to how you would manage risk should you find yourself in my shoes. We are living in a world where there are probable prosecutions for mismanagement of risk. In my field [farming], recently, an employer was fined around $100,000.00 for a Quad bike death on his farm. Any business managers will be well aware of protocols that need to be followed in their workplaces to avoid liability. So it is with our sport [and other sports] and I ask you risk takers [riders] to be more sympathetic of the task of us risk managers [MNZ] as we try and put systems into your sport that will not only help to make events safer but more importantly will be seen by outside observers [ACC being one] as being sound and viable. To be sympathetic to MNZ’s stance would require belief from you that risk management is necessary and you are making efforts to comply.
When I talk of compliance I am talking about more than just wearing a helmet whenever on your bike. I am talking of embracing officials training and the need of officials. I am talking of adhering to licencing and permitting requirements. I am talking about running events with good briefing and competent officials. I am also talking about understanding and following protocol of ALL of the chapters in the’ manual of sport’ [rule book] and the correct use of your log book.
About now some of you may be thinking that a group of you could take your bikes down to the local ‘play’ area on any old Sunday and run a very local competition that will not attract the attention of any authorities and because there is less risk than other M/C codes you will be highly unlikely of incurring a liability claim and you will be free of all the compliance “rubbish” and associated cost of time and money.
Firstly I suggest to you that a group will constitute an organisation and if by any chance you had ‘scores’ it would also constitute a competition. If there was a ‘breach of safety’ [it IS possible to have one] by such an organisation who was running a competition the court or coroner would be investigating as to who was liable. The chances are that there would be a leader identified [MNZ calls them a Clerk of Course and will train and stand behind them] and if the courts were not calling for justice you would find that in today’s society that the family and friends of the ‘victim’ will be calling for accountability. This would not be a desirable situation for a group without a sound safety structure.
Secondly. How much extra time and money is really required to set up an event through sound and safe protocols using MNZ systems. Do you think that it may be ‘all the better’ for having an element of planning and preparation [not to mention enhanced safety]. Event administration and event officialdom should not be the domain of a few. If this were to be the case it would certainly be a drain on the respective workforce. If the burden was shared and plans were made in a timely fashion I am sure that the MNZ model would not overtax the Moto Trials fraternity of NZ.
But wait there’s more. The directives for improving the structures that will enhance your safety are not simply an initiative from your board, MNZ staff, safety commission and other commissioners. No, your sports body is also the ‘whipping boy’ of ACC and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment [old DoL] and other authorities. MNZ is recognised as the NZ authority for motorcycle sport and even though there are many “events” throughout NZ that happen without its knowledge and authority, MNZ will still be the body who answers to unsafe practices where ever and whoever are participating on a MOTORCYCLE. My point here is that they will collect blame for events that attract adverse attention whether or not they were authorised by MNZ.
One of the opening statements I made as your new commissioner was that I would like to see all Trials riders singing from the same song sheet. Its goes without saying that MNZ would be the song writer but alas I have not managed a tuneful harmony yet. To those of you who believe the MNZ tune to be distasteful I suggest that digressing to a variety of different tunes will only weaken us and lead us to extinction. The one body that is sustainable, evergreen and internationally affiliated is the only body that represents reasonable hope. If you want them to perform better [and there are areas that can be ‘tweaked] why not join MNZ and give service and benefit of your expertise which in turn will give innovation, strength and credibility to MNZ.