Committing to making your organisation a safe place is not only a legal and obligatory matter, but an ethical one as well. It also helps to reduce the costs that can arise when things go wrong.
The term ‘safety’ in this context refers to not only the physical (i.e. your property) but also to emotional, spiritual and even financial aspects of your organisation. This means that as well as creating safe premises to reduce the risk of injuries, you also need to ensure people are protected from abuse of all kinds.
Here are five ways to help keep your community safe.
1. Safe physical environments
Creating a safe physical environment through safe church policies and procedures helps reduce the risk of injuries from slips, trips, falls and other types of accidents and harmful events. This includes:
- Fire safety – such as reducing your church’s risk of bushfire and arson, creating fire-prevention and disaster evacuation plans, and training in the safe use of fire extinguishers.
- Electrical safety – includes safe use of electricity, regular testing and tagging and replacing old wiring and switchboards.
- Safe premises – to prevent slips, trips and falls. It’s also important to ensure your property is safe for people with a disability.
- Security measures – to protect against vandalism, break-ins and acts of terrorism.
- Property maintenance – to reduce the risk of harm and insurance claims due to disastrous events. This includes creating a property maintenance plan and conducting regular roof inspections.
- Outdoor safety – such as maintenance of grounds and car parks to prevent accidents.
Also, see our previous post on the seven Essential Safety Measures for churches.
2. Personal health and safety
People also need protection from the less “tangible” risks in your organisation. This includes such aspects as:
- Privacy – through taking proactive steps to protect people’s privacy and information.
- Personal well-being – for example, when providing counselling or pastoral care or other types of personal services.
- Events – e.g. food safety and good management of celebrations.
3. Safety of employees and volunteers
If you employ people or use volunteers in your organisation you need to ensure your working environment is a healthy one to keep people safe at work. This involves:
- Workplace safety – sound workplace ergonomics and a healthy environment to protect people from strain, injury and illness.
- Insurance cover – being aware of your workers’ compensation obligations.
- Discrimination – developing processes to prevent and deal with discrimination, bullying and harassment.
- Employment – understanding and complying with your obligations under Fair Work and regarding dismissals and redundancy.
- Volunteers – keeping volunteers safe while engaged in the workplace, and managing church volunteers while they are assisting in op shops or cafes or on working bees.
- Cyber security – to reduce the risk of hacking, identity theft and data loss.
4. Protection of children and youth
Keeping kids and young people safe should be a top priority in any church or faith organisation. Examples:
- Events – physical safety on adventure camps and during trip transport.
- Safety for young children – e.g. in playgrounds and creches.
- Food safety – protecting against severe allergies.
- Workers – obtaining employee and volunteer Working-with-Children and Police Checks.
- Safe places – creating child protection policies and procedures and safe environments where children are protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
- Compliance – with legal obligations regarding reporting of abuse, and implementing strong Child Safe Standards.
The ChildSafe program has also been specially developed to provide churches and other organsations with resources and training to improve child safety. Membership is free for all insured members – check our previous post for more info.
5. Financial protection
As a faith organisation it’s important to be accountable for all donations and funds received. Our posts explain more on this topic:
- Fundraising and donations – your rights and responsibilities.
- Financial audits – what they entail and why they should be done independently.
- Cash handling – tips for security and accountability to prevent misuse of church funds.
Need risk management assistance?
Creating a robust risk management plan for your organisation is essential but can be a complex matter. If you need assistance with this ring or email Greg McLean.
Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: health & safety, risk management