It’s great to have all hands on deck to fulfill your cause. When groups of people are involved, there’s also a lot to consider in regards to nonprofit workplace safety that ensures everyone is on the same page.
Responsibility for—and awareness of—workplace safety often falls solely upon the shoulders of paid staff, but if volunteers have the potential to do harm, why not leverage them as partners in workplace safety efforts?
Here are some ideas to empower volunteers as effective contributors to your nonprofit workplace safety culture:
Plan + Communicate
- Whenever possible, ensure that volunteers are working under supervision, or in pairs or small groups; supervision or company might reduce the chance of a volunteer behaving inappropriately, or a lone volunteer suffering an injury or other incident
- Publicly praise volunteers who proactively report safety concerns
- Ask your volunteers if they have ever felt unsafe—or if they have ever observed another volunteer, employee, or program participant in a potentially unsafe situation—while serving the organization
- Encourage a volunteer representative to present volunteer-driven safety recommendations to your organization’s Safety Committee
- Train volunteers to recognize and report safety hazards, policy violations, and other potential safety issues; ensure that all volunteers are prepared to report concerns immediately to the appropriate internal authority
- Provide on-site safety training to “episodic” volunteers—those helping sporadically at special events or on short-term assignments
- Provide role-specific safety training to volunteers who contribute regularly; for example, require:
- Safe-lifting training for volunteers completing physical tasks
- Child abuse prevention training for volunteers who frequently interact with children and teens
- Cash handling and theft/fraud prevention training to volunteers who manage cash boxes at events
- Prepare volunteers to complete incident/accident reports, should volunteers ever be involved in such events
- Provide emergency contact information to volunteers, along with simple instructions about when volunteers should report a crisis to an in-house authority or an outside emergency responder (e.g., police, fire department, etc.)
WHAT’S NEXT: Now that you have the right volunteers in place, help keep them protected with an accident and health policy from pomi. When an accident occurs, our policy helps pay for out of pocket medical costs. Volunteers are protected and organizations have peace of mind knowing that they have proper coverage in place to avoid disastrous lawsuits and fees.