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Health, the Outdoors and Safety

Centre for Decision Analysis & Risk Management (DARM), School of Science and Technology, Middlesex University, London NW4 4BT, UK
Independent Expert-Consultant, London E14 8NT, UK
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Catharine Ward Thompson and Francisca Lima
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4274;
Received: 16 March 2021 / Revised: 5 April 2021 / Accepted: 8 April 2021 / Published: 12 April 2021
While the public health benefits accruing from exposure to the outdoors, and especially the natural environment, have gained greater recognition, this has exposed rifts in thinking between those focusing on the pathology of injury and those pursuing a wider health agenda which recognizes the restorative potential of encounters with nature. In retrospect, the classification of injury as a public health issue in the mid-20th century triggered complex societal responses which generated unintended consequences affecting healthful activities. Responses generally aim to reduce or minimize the risk of injury and come in different forms, including formal and informal codes of practice, standards, management systems and regulation. Well-intentioned as these interventions may have been, the new emphasis on harm shifted attention away from what causes health and resulted in increasing control over activities, including those taking place outdoors. This article, which draws on long-term qualitative policy research, describes examples of these on-going tensions in the context of the public enjoyment of the outdoors. In conclusion, the situation presented is considered from a number of theoretical perspectives, and proposals are made for resolving the issues. These include improved communication between sectors and, on the technical side, the introduction of a compensatory decision process which enables policy makers to take account of both the health benefits and risks of exposure to the natural environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: public health; safety; wellbeing; restorative environment; risk; benefit; injury public health; safety; wellbeing; restorative environment; risk; benefit; injury
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ball, D.J.; Ball-King, L. Health, the Outdoors and Safety. Sustainability 2021, 13, 4274.

AMA Style

Ball DJ, Ball-King L. Health, the Outdoors and Safety. Sustainability. 2021; 13(8):4274.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ball, David J., and Laurence Ball-King. 2021. "Health, the Outdoors and Safety" Sustainability 13, no. 8: 4274.

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