HTS Safety Information
As HTS offer ski and educational school tours we've split our safety information section into two areas. Both sections provide links to documentation and information that will help give you peace of mind when organising and booking a ski or educational trip abroad. If you have any questions or feedback please contact us today using the details below:
Educational School Trips Contact Details
Tel: 01273 320 993
Ski Tours Contact Details:
Tel: 01273 320 992
Safety information for HTS School Tours:
Child Protection Policy
In addition to our Safety Management System HTS also has a thorough Child Protection Policy. Please click here for more information.
School Travel Forum
This is a major initiative to help teachers, schools and colleges.
HTS is a full member of the STF. The School Travel Forum is a group of leading school tour operators that promote good practice and safety in school travel.
All full members of the STF adhere to a rigorous Code of Practice and Safety Management Standards which meet the requirements of DfES guidelines and are externally verified each year by suitably qualified independent Health & Safety professionals.
Details on the School Travel Forum Code of Practice are available online at: www.schooltravelforum.com
The LoTC Quality Badge Scheme
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has worked in partnership with the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom to develop the LOtC Quality Badge.
We are very pleased to announce that HTS is an accredited Quality Badge provider. We have shown that we have pledged to engage in an ongoing process to sustain high-quality learning outside the classroom and have demonstrated that we meet six quality indicators.
1. We have a process in place to assist users to plan the learning experience effectively;
2. We provide accurate information about our offers;
3. We provide activities, experience or resources which meet learner needs;
4. The provider reviews the experience and acts upon feedback;
5. The provider meets the needs of users;
6. The provider has a safety management processes in place to manage risk effectively.
The Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge provides for the first time a national accreditation combining the essential elements of provision – learning and safety – into one easily recognizable and trusted Quality Badge for all types of Learning Outside the Classroom provider organisations.
For more information about the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto and the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, please visit http://www.lotc.org.uk
Safety information for HTS Total Ski and SkiValue trips:
HTS is the benchmark in respect of Safety Management. The essence of the HTS Safety Management System is that it achieves real, practical improvements as opposed to being a statement of many fine principles which often cannot be carried out in practice by staff who may not be equipped or qualified to perform the tasks assigned to them. The fundamental underlying tenet of the HTS Safety Management system is an absolute insistence on using only services provided by government-licensed suppliers.
The stringent government licensing system, which is strictly enforced in the European countries to which we operate, but which does not for the most part exist in the UK, is often not well understood in the UK. The bottom line is that the use of facilities in these countries, which are government licensed, goes a long way to guaranteeing good standards of safety, hygiene and fire protection in respect of accommodation, and safety and good practice in respect of other key services such as ski schools and ski equipment suppliers.
HTS can make a real and practical impact in a way which we believe no one else in schools skiing can. All HTS suppliers, whether hotels, ski schools or ski equipment suppliers, are visited at least once a year to verify their general standards of operation by our own senior staff/directors from our Brighton and Innsbruck offices.
School Travel Forum
HTS Total Ski and HTS Ski Value are full members of the School Travel Forum. Founded in 2003 the School Travel Forum is a democratic, not for profit organisation of leading school tour operators that promotes good practice and safety in school travel. This means that you can be assured that every possible care is taken to ensure a safe, enjoyable and worthwhile trip for your students. Full details can be found at www.schooltravelforum.com
HTS Total Ski is a trading name of CHS Tour Services GmbH, registered office TUI Travel House, Fleming Way, Crawley, RH10 9QL. Registered in England and Wales no. 6072876. A member of the TUI Travel PLC group of companies. HTS organises ski trips for UK schools to Austria, Italy and Switzerland by coach and air. We are members of ABTA (no. W1625) and hold an ATOL from the Civil Aviation Authority, no. 5728. The company is also licensed as a travel agent by the Provincial Government of Tirol and as a bonded tour operator by the Ministry of Economics in Vienna, licence number 1999/0016. Our contract with our parties is in accordance with English law and under the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales.
PROVISION OF SERVICES
Other than Resort Managers, the company does not provide any services on its own account but provides a package comprising the following individual services, all of which are booked with licensed operators. What we do not and will not do is operate any services ourselves (e.g. provide ski equipment on our own account, employ British or other ski instructors or operate our own hotels) as this could mean that they would be outside the scope of the relevant national or local regulations.
A comprehensive insurance policy, that has been designed exclusively for school trips, is provided. Each person‘s policy includes personal accident, death benefit, medical (£5m), personal liability (£2m), cancellation and abandonment etc., baggage, ski equipment. The insurance is specially tailored for school ski parties. Cover is provided by EU-licensed insurers. Additionally, HTS Total Ski has the standard £5m ABTA public liability insurance (should your Authority request any higher figure please contact us for advice). Please also see section 20 in our Booking Conditions (p.131).
2. TRANSPORT BY SNOWCOACH FROM THE UK
Provided by UK coach companies licensed by the UK Department of Transport. Our contract specifies that all coaches must be prepared and suitable for winter operation e.g. provision of modern snow chains, suitable heating, winter servicing (oils, lubricants, fuel, anti-freeze, brake fluid etc). We also specify:
a. The exact routes each coach must take in order to avoid unsafe or difficult routes in winter. We also have stand-by and back-up arrangements in place along these specified routes which can sharply reduce the waiting time to obtain a replacement coach in the event of breakdown. All arriving and departing coach operations are personally monitored by the company‘s bi-lingual directors and senior staff: coaches are monitored throughout their journey, any breakdowns are dealt with by us including throughout the night and all coaches are checked in and out of resort. All coaches must contractually be provided with mobile phones in order to enable us to perform this function.
b. That each coach must be manned by 2 competent drivers, one of whom must have had experience of Alpine driving
c. That no driver will have a criminal record for an offence that that would make him/her unsuitable to accompany a party of schoolchildren, and that the coach company will not, criminal records and CRB checks notwithstanding, allow any driver to accompany a party where they themselves may have any doubts in this respect. We hold pre-season training sessions with our coach companies to ensure they understand our requirements and their duties: this training session includes detailed information on the fitting and use of proper advanced snow chains, as required in the Alps.
3. AIR TRANSPORT
Provided by scheduled carriers or charter airlines licensed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority or their Swiss or EU-counterparts.
4. COACH TRANSPORT IN THE UK AND ABROAD (SCHOOL-AIRPORT-RESORT TRANSFERS)
Provided by coach companies licensed by the UK Ministry of Transport (school to airport transfers) or the appropriate government department of the country concerned (airport to resort transfers). Although the use of seat belts is not mandatory in several European countries ALL airport transfer coaches provided for HTS must contractually be fitted with seat belts (this does not apply to local coaches used for evening entertainment or transport to/from the slopes or to Ski Buses provided by ski resorts/ski lift companies, in the same way that it does not apply to local UK service buses).
Every Hotel, Gasthof, Albergo, Gasthaus, Gaststätte, Pension or Youth Hotel etc is licensed by the relevant national or provincial authorities of Austria, Italy or Switzerland. A licence (without which a hotel may not open to the public) is only granted once the following legal procedures have been complied with:
a. There must be a person who is legally responsible for the operation of the establishment and this person must hold his/her own personal, government-issued hotel and catering trade licence. Such a licence is granted once there has been a police check and the person concerned has successfully attended the nationally recognised hotel and catering training course (which includes, for example, food preparation and hygiene) and is able to present the appropriate certificate to the authorities.
b. The hotel itself has been inspected by the hygiene, safety, building and fire inspectorates and complies with the laws and regulations in force. The hotel then remains under the permanent supervision of these authorities who make both periodic and random, unannounced checks to ensure that the regulations are being complied with.
If a hotel does not comply with the above requirements it is not allowed to open to the public. The standards required by the authorities in the countries in which we operate are high, and the licensing regime, the like of which does not exist in the UK, is strict.
Further, all hotels used by our company are inspected and contracted by our company (ie they are not inspected by agents on our behalf) and such inspections take place at least once a year (many are inspected much more frequently) by senior management based at our Innsbruck and UK Office, all of whom have many years experience in the travel industry. Hotels are mostly inspected while groups are in residence in order to enable us to monitor performance in a “live“ situation.
6. SKI SCHOOLS
We use only officially-licensed Austrian, Italian and Swiss ski schools which are required to comply with the regulations in force and thus use only instructors qualified in accordance with the norms of the relevant national or provincial authorities. The use of a national, government-licensed ski school, under the management and control of a government-licensed ski school director (with a grade 1 international qualification), which has close daily working relationships with the ski lift operator and the resort rescue services, is an important consideration for safety on the slopes. As a key part of our safety management arrangements we will not employ or use ski instructors who are not under the control of a government-licensed local ski school for the following reasons:
a. Such ski instructors, while they may well be perfectly competent as instructors, are unlikely to know the terrain and, should that be the case, will not be able to assess where they should or should not take parties skiing.
b. In the event of difficulty, they will not be under the supervision of a ski school which is able to provide vital back-up. A locally-based, legally-liable ski school checks groups out and back in, monitors performance and keeps a watchful eye on practices and procedures.
c. In the event of difficulty or accident, they may not be aware of the local procedures and contacts, may have difficulty in contacting the rescue and piste control services and may experience language difficulties in attempting to do so.
The national ski school licensing authorities carry out spot checks on the slopes including, for example, whether each ski instructor is in possession of the required licence. Any ski school found to be in material breach of a regulation is subject to immediate closure by the authorities.
7. SKI & SNOWBOARD EQUIPMENT
Arranged with licensed suppliers which are legally and contractually required to provide suitable and safe equipment. Virtually all equipment is ski-shop supplied and fitted (exceptions are when ski equipment is stored in, supplied from and fitted in the hotel by the ski school which holds its own ski equipment licence).
8. SKI LIFTS
All ski lift companies, whose uplift facilities are used, are licensed by the relevant national or provincial authorities in accordance with the current railway and/or transport regulations.
9. EVENING ACTIVITIES
Although evening activities are not included in our basic prices, we will pre-book a package of recognised entertainment in advance (eg. swimming, bowling, curling, ice skating, pizza evening, folk evening, disco etc). Parties are booked with suppliers which hold the appropriate operating licence. We will not, however, undertake to book or arrange tobogganing, bumboarding or polybagging etc as these can be dangerous and, by their nature, cannot be provided by licensed operators.
10. RESORT MANAGEMENT
HTS provides Resort Managers to look after the smooth operation of each party‘s ski week. Our managers are mostly English-speaking natives of the country concerned who thus speak the local language. They are employed by CHS Tour Services GmbH. Resort managers are always in situ prior to the arrival of each group, and are mostly provided with a car and always with a mobile phone. They are able to provide an effective link with local suppliers, local people, the local public authorities and services (town/village hall, police, hospital, doctors, rescue and safety services on the slopes). All HTS Resort Managers attend a pre-arrival training session which includes important aspects of safety: please refer to 12 Safety below.
11. EMERGENCY AND ACCIDENT
While parties are travelling, our Brighton and Innsbruck offices operate a 24 hour contact service. Our insurers also provide a 24 hour emergency medical, repatriation and air ambulance service. Because of the location of our Innsbruck head office, staffed by experienced and multi-lingual management throughout the year, plus our unique resort management system (see point 10 above - mostly nationals of the country concerned), we are particularly well equipped to handle such matters. Full details are given in your travelling instructions.
• Risk assessment
Every service is provided by a government-licensed operator in places where there is public access for which the local authorities and/or the private operator concerned must take normal responsibility. None of our arrangements requires any member of the party to leave a controlled environment (this, of course, includes prepared pistes patrolled by the lift company and/or the rescue services).
• Risk assessment Visits
HTS arranges risk assessment weekend visits for Party Leaders
• HTS Resort Manager Safety Functions
HTS Resort Managers are briefed on and involved in some important aspects of safety. Unlike many other companies‘ resort staff, they are in resort several days prior to arrival and during that time must, amongst other things, familiarise themselves with the location of doctors, hospital, ambulance and piste rescue services together with the workings of and contact arrangements for the local rescue and emergency services. This means that from the moment you arrive there is someone who knows what to do. They establish immediate, close contact with the ski school which is the key element and contact point in safety and rescue in the resort (please refer to 6 above).
On arrival day, the HTS Resort Manager accompanies the hotel owner/manager and the Party Leader on a tour of the hotel, translates between the hotelier and the Party Leader and explains all features in respect of safety and fire including, for example, secondary exits, the critically important use of balconies in the event of fire, and the significant escape possibilities via bench seating and ground floor windows. The Resort Manager also arranges with the Party Leader and the Hotelier for the provision of a fire alarm demonstration and/or fire drill at a mutually agreeable time.
• Safety on the Slopes
Whilst there is no such thing as “zero risk“, skiing on marked and patrolled pistes under the auspices of the government-licensed ski school is a safe activity. It is a condition of booking that students will ski or snowboard only on marked slopes which are patrolled by the lift company and/or the rescue services and at all times be under the supervision of the ski school or their own teachers who must be competent skiers. Even when under the supervision of the ski school we strongly recommend that a teacher or other responsible adult is present with each class to ensure suitable standards of conduct. Our arrangements automatically include Fully Supervised Ski Instruction (6 x 5 + 1 hours ski lessons and an hour‘s free lunchtime supervision) which means that, while on the slopes, students are always under the auspices of the official ski school.
• Bad Weather on the Ski Slopes
We have a policy in force which covers action by ourselves, the party leaders, the ski school and the coach drivers (British or local) to deal with bad weather conditions on the ski slopes and any resultant requirement to get students back to the hotel earlier than may have been planned. The details are included in your travelling instructions.
• Safety in Resort
Alpine villages or small towns, where the majority of our groups are accommodated, are by nature safe environments, often inherently safer than many of the towns and cities in which students normally live. Public authorities and private owners must exercise the usual duty of care. We make certain recommendations to assist you in this respect which are included in your travelling instructions.