Safety Management

 

Introduction

Galina International Study Tours is an Assured Member of the School Travel Forum (STF).  In booking with us you can be secure in the knowledge that we: understand & facilitate the needs of educational travel & have effective Safety Management Systems in place. The Safety Management System is reviewed four times per year & is externally audited by Argent Health & Safety each year.  Our Health & Safety committee meets at the end of each quarter to review all aspects of our systems & procedures.  We can advise on completion of a risk assessment for your tour & provide our own Risk Assessment Guidance pack to help you through this process.  Please ask your Tour Administrator for a copy.

It is worth stating here that Galina will not get involved in organising an itinerary that we have no experience of, in terms of the destination & the visits you may request.  From our experience, we have decided we will not provide the following:

  • coach travel through the night (06.00 is our earliest pick-up time)

  • double-decker coaches

  • coaches for European travel that do not have a continental safety door

STF membership is the benchmark for good school tour providers; consequently it is an Awarding Body for the prestigious Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge,  The Outdoor Education Advisors Panel (OEAP) endorses the Quality Badge & requests Local Authorities to recommend the use of Badged Providers & require the minimum of additional paperwork where Quality Badge accreditation is in place.  This means that you can book your tour with confidence, meet your due diligence & reduce the amount of External Provider paperwork necessary.

 

Safety Management System

Galina's Safety Management System (SMS) has been developed in conjunction with Argent Health & Safety, a leading specialist in this field. Argent are also responsible for providing training for our own accommodation & coach auditors as well as an external audit of our own compliance with the SMS.

Our SMS complies with the guidance provided by the Department for Education & Scottish Executive with regard to organising school tours & the selection of a tour operator.

 

Health & Safety Policy Statement

It is the policy of Galina International Study Tours to operate in such a way as to provide, so far as is reasonably practicable, a safe & healthy environment for all of its guests & others that may be affected by its activities.  We consider that Health & Safety is a fundamental part of management responsibilities & expect our directors, managers & staff to promote appropriate standards of health, safety & welfare, for its guests, staff & visitors.  Galina recognises its legal & moral responsibility to ensure that all contracted accommodation under its control is safe to use. The directors have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring compliance with the company safety policy; thereafter the responsibility is delegated to the designated Health & Safety Committee made up of appropriate members.  Compliance with the Company Safety Policy will be achieved through the proper implementation of a Safety Management System.

 

Statement of Company Objectives

Our objective is to promote a safety culture that involves all members of staff. Their commitment & active co-operation in achieving a continual improvement in safety standards is essential. This includes ensuring that all service providers used are safety-conscious & comply with this policy.

Galina International Study Tours implement a Safety Management System in line with the Company Safety Policy.

All staff involved in the implementation of the Safety Management System are trained commensurate with their roles & responsibilities under that system.

All those responsible for contracting & operating tours, have a clear duty of care to carry out their responsibilities in such a way as to ensure that standards of health & safety are regularly monitored & improved, where appropriate, in accordance with the above policy.

All suppliers contracted sign a contract that includes an agreement that they agree to comply with the relevant Health & Safety guidance.

Galina International Study Tours Ltd maintains a list of suppliers in order to highlight potential risks & Health & Safety hazards.

The specification of criteria for inclusion on this list will be the responsibility of our Health & Safety Committee which oversees all matters pertaining to safety on our tours.

Galina International Study Tours Ltd will continue to work with contracted suppliers to improve the standard of safety in their accommodation.

 

Identification of Responsibilities

Policy Making

The Board of Directors will ensure that: -

  • relevant Department Heads are directed to implement the Safety Management System (SMS),

  • the Department Heads are suitably competent persons,

  • adequate resources are provided to implement the requirements of the SMS,

  • the Health & Safety Committee is made up of appropriate members.

 

Planning

The Health & Safety Committee will ensure that:

  • there is participation of appropriate personnel in the development & implementation of the SMS procedures,

  • personnel are trained & competent in the requirements of the SMS,

  • performance of the SMS & staff implementing it are monitored & feedback is provided to the directors,

  • trends identified by the monitoring activities contained in the SMS are examined,

  • they keep up to date with safety requirements & best practices applicable to tours,

  • as the business changes & develops potential Health & Safety Risks are assessed.

 

Implementation

The Health & Safety Committee will ensure that:

  • all staff are made aware of their responsibilities in relation to the SMS & have sufficient training,

  • all staff carry out their responsibilities in accordance with the training & procedures set out in the SMS,

  • staff are aware that they should report any weakness or failure in the SMS procedure.

 

Review

The Directors & relevant Department Heads will ensure that:

  • they carry out an annual review of the Safety Management System,

  • any new developments, which would improve the standards of the SMS, are considered,

  • previous objectives set are being successfully achieved,

  • a suitable, qualified external organisation, approved to conduct an independent audit of all documents & procedures of the SMS, are invited to do so,

  • any accidents, incidents or near misses are investigated & action taken where necessary.

 

Accommodation used by Galina

The details of accommodation used or likely to be used by Galina International Study Tours on five or more occasions in any calendar year are held on a "Frequent Use" list. We attempt to use accommodation from this list as much as possible, given availability at the time of booking.

Information regarding accommodation that is used less than five times a year or on a "one-off" basis is recorded on an "Occasional Use" list.

For each hotel/centre which is contracted directly or through local agents, Galina International Study Tours  will ensure that the supplier completes & signs a self-assessment audit & confirms compliance with local regulations.

Galina International Study Tours Ltd will endeavour to obtain confirmation that the hotel/centre has the following:

a) a current fire certificate or local equivalent,

b) appropriate insurance,

c) a current hygiene certificate or local equivalent.

 

On-Site & Self Assessment Reports

These are reports which undertake to audit thoroughly every area of fire safety, security, hygiene & facilities in general.

If we use accommodation five times or more in any one year we will carry out an On-site accommodation audit. This will be carried out in situ by a trained auditor. The results will be assessed by the auditor, using the rating system given below. Any areas of concern will initiate the appropriate action.

All accommodation used by Galina International Study Tours will be subject to a Self-Assessment Audit prior to first use & thereafter at a maximum of three year intervals. The Self-Assessment Audit will be completed by the hotelier or agent. The results will be assessed by the directors, using the rating system given below. Any areas of concern will initiate the appropriate action.

The Standard of Accommodation: Safety Audit Result Ratings

A rating will be awarded as a result of each accommodation audit as outlined below:-

High Conformity

This exceeds all local & national requirements & safety standards are excellent. No improvements are presently required & the provider will be commended & encouraged to maintain their standards.

Acceptable Conformity

Room for improvement has been identified but the defects do not render the building unsafe. The defects will be brought to the immediate attention of the provider at the time of auditing/receipt of the audit & followed up in writing within 14 days. The deficiencies will be evaluated & a schedule of remedial action agreed & monitored.

Unacceptable

Regardless of conformity with all local & national requirements, we deem this accommodation to fall below the required standard & would strongly recommend clients not to use this accommodation. It will be withdrawn from any Galina International Study Tours Ltd programme. It will only be reinstated if the defects have been rectified & a re-audit has taken place in which the accommodation achieves an acceptable or high standard.

Galina International Study Tours will endeavour to assist the accommodation supplier in improving Health & Safety standards in their accommodation.

 

Risk Assessments

If requested, a risk assessment of accommodation will be forwarded to the group leader once a booking is confirmed. This will include the following information:

a) confirmation that the accommodation meets local & national fire, safety & hygiene regulations & that liability insurance is in place,

b) the location of fire exits & other exits from the property,

d) the location of fire extinguishers & smoke detectors,

e) security details ie locks on guest rooms, external doors & windows,

f) external security details ie locks on garden or courtyard gates, exterior walled areas, local environment,

g) details relating to food hygiene & pest control,

h) other details eg presence of balconies on upper floor(s) (if applicable).

 

Coach Operators Used by Galina: UK Companies

The details of coach operators used or likely to be used by Galina International Study Tours on five or more occasions in any calendar year are recorded on a "Frequent Use" list. Information regarding coach operators that are used less than five times a year or on a "one-off" basis is recorded on an "Occasional Use" list.

All coach operators used by Galina International Study Tours must provide, on an annual basis, a copy of the following documentation before we will consider using their services:

a) Operating Licence

b) Motor Vehicle Insurance

c) Public Liability Insurance

We only select coach operators who belong to recognised industry bodies such as the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), Guild of British Coach Operators or are Coach Marque accredited.

It is company policy not to arrange tours which require coach travel through the night. We believe that the risk of an accident is greatly increased by drivers who are tired after driving long distances in the early hours.

 

Contracts with UK Coach Operators

All coach operators must sign a contract to confirm the following:

a) that they comply with all national, local, trade & other laws, regulations, rules & codes of practice,

b) that they adhere to safety standards regarding drivers' hours & will allocate a sufficient number of drivers to the tour to meet EU standards,

c) that drivers have received clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau or Scottish Criminal Records Office,

d) that vehicles used by Galina will be no older than seven years, are regularly maintained, fitted with seatbelts & have a continental safety door for tours into Europe,

e) that the work will not be subcontracted to a third party unknown to us except as a result of unforeseen circumstances (see below) & only then to an operator that meets the requirements stated in our original contract,

In the event of a vehicle breakdown whilst on tour, necessitating use of a replacement vehicle, it will be fitted with seatbelts if it is a UK coach. Seatbelts will be requested if the replacement vehicle is provided by a non-UK coach operator but as this is not a legal requirement in other European countries this may not be possible.

 

Use of Coach Companies on an Occasional Basis

Galina International Study Tours will use coach operators drawn from our "Frequent Use" list whenever practical but there are circumstances in which this is not always possible:

a) in peak periods when our regular coach providers may not have a vehicle available,

b) where the departure point would make it impractical to use one of our regular coach operators,

c) when a last-minute breakdown, driver illness or other unforeseen circumstance prevents one of our regular coach operators from providing a vehicle & a replacement has to be found at short notice,

d) when a coach breaks down on tour & has to be replaced by another vehicle,

e) where a client specifically requests a local coach operator not on our "Frequent Use" list.

Under these circumstances Galina International Study Tours will obtain copies of the appropriate documentation outlined above and issue a contract to be signed by the coach operator.

 

Non-UK Coach Operators used by Galina

All non-UK coach operators used by Galina International Study Tours  must provide, on an annual basis, a copy of the following documentation before we will consider using their services:

a) Operating Licence

b) Motor Vehicle Insurance

c) Public Liability Insurance

 

Contracts with non-UK Coach Operators

All non-UK coach operators must sign a contract to confirm the following:

a) that they comply with all national, local, trade & other laws, regulations, rules & codes of practice,

b) that they adhere to safety standards regarding drivers' hours & will allocate a sufficient number of drivers to the tour to meet EU standards,

c) that drivers are vetted & do not have a material criminal record or detrimental employment record,

d) that vehicles used by Galina will be no older than seven years & are regularly maintained to a roadworthy standard acceptable to their local or national licensing authority,

e) that the work will not be subcontracted to a third party unknown to us except as a result of unforeseen circumstances (see above) & only then to an operator that meets the requirements stated in our original contract.

 

Cruise Ships, Ferries & Eurotunnel

All cruise ships & ferries contracted for use will be subject to validation of all relevant maritime certification in relation to seaworthiness. Validation will be achieved by a desktop study of relevant documentation carried out by a relevant Department Head, Director or competent person.

 

Itineraries, Visits & Excursions

Our itineraries are designed & trialled to ensure that they conform (as a minimum) to EU driving regulations & are subsequently amended in the light of client feedback, operational experience or changes on the ground that have a direct bearing on safety.

Galina International Study Tours will undertake to categorise all promoted excursions in accordance with risk & take reasonable steps to ensure that, where visits & excursions are included in a final itinerary, risks have been evaluated & monitored.

Galina International Study Tours will ensure information will be provided to group leaders so that they are able to make informed decisions for their own group.

Alternative venues or excursions included at the client's request are done so on the understanding that they may not be subject to our own risk assessment of the location. In certain circumstances we will strongly recommend an inspection visit be undertaken so that the client can assess any risk for themselves & make an informed decision in this regard.

 

Guide & Tour Directors

All our guides & tour directors are checked either by the Criminal Records Bureau or Scottish Criminal Records Office.

 

Inspection Visits

Galina International Study Tours will provide, free of charge, two nights' Bed & Breakfast accommodation for two people at or near their booked accommodation so that they can inspect accommodation & make their own risk assessment of locations & venues to be visited on their tour.

This offer applies to group leaders who have made a confirmed booking with Galina International Study Tours Ltd.

 

Duty Officers & Emergency Procedures

A Galina International Study Tours Duty Officer is contactable via a mobile phone 24 hours a day.

All party leaders & coach drivers will be given Galina International Study Tours telephone emergency contact number. Galina International Study Tours  will request the mobile phone numbers of party leaders & coach drivers to assist with co-ordinating emergency procedures.

The Duty Officer will log all calls. If a call represents an incident which compromises the safety of a client, an Incident Report will be completed. The Duty Officer will:

a) gather the facts and establish the nature of the incident, obtain contact details, establish the time of the incident, what happened, how many people were involved, whether anyone was injured or killed and whether the level of risk is on-going.

b) inform the Managing Director immediately in the event of a major emergency.

c) maintain regular contact with the client.

d) keep a comprehensive record of the situation and the people contacted. The names and contact details of anyone (including emergency services) whom the Duty Officer spoke to or liaise with will be recorded.

These reports will be used to review procedures & determine priorities for risk management.

 

Emergency Response

In the event of a serious emergency or on-going crisis, the Managing Director & senior staff will form a team based in Galina’s Chester office to co-ordinate a response. This will include:

a) contact the school at the earliest possible opportunity,

b) maintain regular contact with the coach driver and/or tour guide if possible,

c) providing continued support, reassurance and advice to the client and updating them with information as it becomes available,

d) establish full details of the incident or situation and how and why it happened or what is currently being done to deal with the situation,

e) establish & remain in regular contact with authorities, emergency services, staff and embassies or consulates,

f) gather full details of every passenger (including staff) including next of kin involved in the incident and record their current whereabouts. This may involve liaison with the school for the latter,

g) act promptly regarding taking requests from the scene such as passengers wishing to reassure family members in the UK,

h) assisting with arrangements for individuals to travel to the location,

i) contact local police where next of kin need to be informed,

j) liaising with Insurance Company to establish the level of cover held by each passenger in the group and assisting with repatriation arrangements.

In particular we will also undertake to do the following as far as possible:

a) obtain photographic evidence from those at the scene,

b) prepare press statements and respond to media enquiries. (passenger names will not be disclosed),

c) obtain receipts for all expenses connected with the incident that may be required for insurance purposes,

d) obtain medical documents from medical authorities (sending a company representative if required). Documentation may include death certificates, certificates indicating how the injured may travel home and case histories including X-rays if possible.

 

De-Brief

After the event we will examine our handling of the situation to see what can be learned from it for future reference. Key questions will be:

a) Was our response timely, appropriate, clear and decisive?

b) Which aspects of our handling of the situation worked well, poorly or not at all and what can be learned for future reference?

c) Were our suppliers at fault and if so what actions are to be taken?

d) To what extent could the situation have been anticipated, if at all?

e) What further support could we have called upon?

 

Monitoring & Review of Safety Procedures

Galina International Study Tours will:

a) maintain regular contact with suitable organisations to ascertain whether there are any developments in safety of which it needs to be aware to further improve its safety management,

b) keep a record of accidents, incidents or near misses for the purposes of reviewing our safety procedures and information. An investigation will be conducted into specific issues if appropriate. An automatic investigation will be held where there is a fatality or hospitalisation for 24 hours or more to identify the causes of the problem & recommend reasonable steps to reduce the likelihood of similar situations arising in the future,

c) encourage clients to report any safety issues they may have in order that we may be able to investigate such matters & take any necessary remedial action.

 

Training

All staff involved in the implementation of the safety management system must be trained to a level commensurate with their duties.

   
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  • Advice For Groups With Bookings

    At the moment we are being guided by this statement from STF & OEAP Please take a look for more information.

    As you will see, the advice only covers groups travelling until 16 April. However we understand that it is likely that this will be extended along with all social distancing measures.

    As we are sure you will appreciate this is an incredibly challenging time for everyone involved in educational travel. Information and policies are changing on an almost daily basis. At the moment we are awaiting updates from amongst others; the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Transport, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ABTA, the School Travel Forum and some insurance companies, all of which has a bearing on the advice which we give all our groups and not just school groups. Consequently, if you are departing on or after 01 June we would very much appreciate your patience and forbearance whilst we wait to hear back from some or all of these organisations and are in a position to give you more constructive guidance and advice. Hopefully this should be within a matter of days.

    However for groups departing on or before 31 May we appreciate the urgency of you knowing what your options are so our staff will be in touch this week to discuss these with you.

    We are pleased to advise that the DfE have confirmed that they will accept all cancellation claims for groups travelling this academic year from all RPA members so if this applies to you, you may wish to start this process before we are able to contact you. Please take a look for more information.

    It is also worth mentioning that some schools and other groups have successfully claimed for the cost of cancelled trips using their own insurance so you may wish to try this before we are able to contact you.

    At Next Generation Travel our staff values and behaviours are guided and managed by the NGT TOGETHER words…

    NGT Together

     

    We truly hope that we can fully demonstrate our absolute passion to work with educationalists to deliver exceptional learning outside the classroom experiences, make the process as easy as possible and offer you real workable solutions to keep these valuable experiences in the school calendar.

    Written on Thursday, 23 April 2020 15:54
  • Statement from ABTA & STF

     

    STF           ABTA logo 1

    We are dedicated to bringing you the latest news and updates regarding travel. 

    Please find below a joint statement from the STF and ABTA as of March 13th 2020. Our current understanding of the situation regarding school trips is as follows:

    • The government has advised schools that they should not undertake international school trips at this stage. This is due to concerns that the schools would face significant challenges in making arrangements to ensure children’s welfare should adult supervisors or children be required to self-isolate. Schools will decide how to act upon this advice. If schools do cancel their trips, normal cancellation terms will apply.
    • Schools should contact either their own general insurers or the Department for Education as they may have some financial cover in place for this scenario. This is one of the areas we are seeking clarity on urgently, so we will update again as soon as we have more info.
    • The Government is not advising schools to stop trips within the UK so schools can proceed as planned if they wish. The Government is advising schools to refresh their risk assessments.Customers wanting to cancel must do so at their own cost, normal cancellation charges apply.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/covid-19-travel-guidance-for-the-education-sector

    Written on Friday, 13 March 2020 15:35
  • Brexit FAQ's

    Last edited 30.01.2020

     

    We now know that the UK will leave the EU at 23h00 (GMT) on 31 January 2020. Following Brexit we will enter a transition period which will run, at least, until the end of December 2020. During the transition period everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now.

    We will continue to monitor the information provided by travel industry experts, organisations like ABTA and the UK Government and pick out what we believe is relevant for you.

     

    Common questions about travel after 31 January 2020

     

    Will flights still operate?

    Yes. During the transition period, everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020 and flights will continue as normal. 

     

    Will my coach journey still operate?

    Coaches will still be able to travel to, from and around EU countries as usual. 

     

    Will trains from the UK to the EU still operate?

    Trains from the UK to the EU will continue to operate as usual. 

     

    Will we have to show our passports at each border?

    We do advise you keep passports handy when travelling throughout Europe, as you may be required to prove your right to travel at border crossings or security checkpoints.

    You can always check on https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out more about visa restrictions for your destination.

     

    Will I need a new passport?

    Valid passports can still be used. You do not need to have six months left on your passport to travel to the EU. Your passport does however need to be valid for the whole of your trip. 

    If you are looking to travel to Europe from 1 January 2021, you will need your passport to both:

    • have at least 6 months left
    • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

    If you do not renew it, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

    If you would like to know more take a look at the latest Government advice.

     

    Will I still be able to use a collective passport?

    Whilst the position as to the validity of collective passports for travel to the EU has not changed, if you are able to arrange for each traveller to have an individual passport which has the requisite validity, this may help to forestall any issues which might arise.

     

    Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?

    No. UK travellers will not need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit. 

     

    European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance

    The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. UK registered EHICs will still be valid throughout 2020.

    ABTA has always advised when travelling to the EU and beyond, that it is important you take out travel insurance. Our tour price includes comprehensive travel insurance as standard. So, unless you advise us that your school or college has its own travel insurance and you wish to decline our insurance, you will automatically have insurance cover with us.

    For more information on our insurance go to:

    Galina Insurance Policy

    Further advice on travel insurance can be found at https://www.abta.com/travelinsurance

     

    Will my tour price change?

    If you have an existing booking with Next Generation Travel group brand:

    We have placed forward contracts for foreign currency so fluctuations in the exchange rate are highly unlikely to affect the price of your tour.

    Please note however that, if there is a change in legislation that will affect your overall tour price and which is out of our control, eg visa costs, surcharges, this cost would be passed on to you.

    As is always our policy at Next Generation Travel we will do our best to do the right thing to work with you to ensure your trip would continue.

     

    If you have not yet booked your tour:

    Due to our forward buying policy for foreign currency, we will work with you to ensure there is no or a low impact on pricing. The travel industry is reporting that the sensible advice is to book now to secure your booking on current currency rates.

     

    What is the law on price changes?

    If there are increases in transportation costs, taxes or fees chargeable for services post Brexit, the law says that package holiday providers, like Next Generation Travel, are permitted to increase their prices. However, we are pleased to confirm that there would be no change within 20 days of your departure and we would cover the first 2% of any price increase. In the unlikely circumstances that prices were to increase by more than 2% you may be asked to pay an additional fee however where the price increase is 10% or higher, you have the right to cancel and receive a full refund of all monies paid, except for any amendment charges.

     

    Will overall prices go up in the future?

    Tour prices in the future will always be open to normal market and economic fluctuations such as currency and service prices. Our foreign currency forward buying policy means we always look to protect customers from the impact of currency fluctuationsHowever, overall tour prices may in the future be affected by changes in legislation such as visa costs, surcharges etc. or increased cost in services such as flights or ferry crossings.

    At Next Generation Travel our experienced staff will always provide you with a tour price which is based either on the actual current rates for your service or estimated rates which are based on our extensive knowledge of the travel and industry. We will always communicate any price changes as they are given to us and have an open and honest pricing policy, which will ensure you should have no surprises later on.

    Data roaming

    Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK and this will continue after 31 January 2020. 

     

     
    ABTA
     
    Brexit Advice for Travellers
     
    Passport Office
     
    Check A Passport – to see if your passport is valid for your destination
    Passport Office FAQs
     
    Industry Articles
     
    What Does Brexit Mean for Travellers
    How Will Brexit Affect Your Holiday
     

     

    Written on Tuesday, 24 September 2019 14:44
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