Protecting Your Staff and Volunteers Through Insurance and Work Safety

October 28, 2019 - 7 minutes read

VolunteersIt might sound like a cliche to say people are your greatest asset, but it happens to be true. Without the workers, ministers, teachers, volunteers and community members in your organisation that make things happen, where would you be?

It’s precisely because of this that you should be proactive in keeping your people as safe as possible, as well as financially protected through insurance.

Here’s how.

Insurance cover for ministers, employees and volunteers

There are several types of insurance that may apply to workers and and community members in faith based organisations and not-for-profits. These include:

  • Personal Accident for Ministers and Chaplains – cover in case of accidents and injuries to staff engaged in ministerial, pastoral or other related duties. The insurance can provide up to 85% of their weekly wages if they are injured while working.
  • Personal Accident for Volunteers and Youth – accident cover for volunteers engaged in youth-based and other activities. This is important as volunteers are not covered by workers’ compensation cover (which applies to paid employees only).
  • Public Liability for non profit organisations – provides cover where a person makes a claim of personal injury or property damage.
  • Workers’ Compensation insurance – compulsory cover for all Australia employers, administered by state-based Workers’ Compensation Authorities. Workers’ Comp covers lost wages following an work-based injury, medical costs, return-to-work plans and death benefits. It also helps prevent injured workers from suing your organisation if they are harmed in the course of their work. For more detail, see our previous post on this topic.

Risk management tips for keeping your people safe

While insurance can provide financial protection, it’s up to you to manage your risks. Doing so reduces the chances of an employee or volunteer being harmed as well as disruption to your organisation.

Create a healthy and safe physical working environment

A safe environment is one that promotes the well-being and safety of all workers, volunteers and visitors. It reduces the risk of accidents and complies with legal obligations.

This needs to cover aspects such as air quality, temperature, noise, lighting, cleaning and hygiene, property maintenance, trip hazards and more.

For more details on these matters, see our previous posts on healthy work environments and keeping your staff and clergy safe at work.

Various other aspects of safety come into play here as well – including fire safety, emergency planning and chemical safety.

Develop good ergonomic design

Ergonomics is not about chairs with good back support (although that’s a part of it), so much as about the design of workspaces to reduce injuries and illness.

It covers three types of space:

  • Primary space – shared areas;
  • Secondary – storage areas and corridors; and
  • Tertiary – individual workstations.

Providing adequate space for workers and volunteers is a priority in this – which is set at 10sqm per person for all types of space combined.

Important matters for workstation design include seated positioning and partitions for privacy and quiet work, as well as good lumbar support and accessible shelving.

Our previous post on ergonomics for workplaces provides more detail.

Prevent manual handling injuries

Manual handling refers to tasks that require physical effort – such as lifting, repetitive movements, force (e.g. to move an object), twisting, bending, stooping, over-reaching, and prolonged sitting in cramped conditions.

You can reduce manual handling injury risk by training staff correct lifting and carrying techniques, providing equipment for moving objects and people, improving workplace design and more.

See our previous post on preventing manual handling injuries for more information.

Manage bullying and mental health issues

Unlawful bullying, harassment and discrimination not only increase the risk of poor morale and mental health, but they can also affect productivity, absenteeism, staff turnover and lead to compensation claims.

To counter this, church-based workplaces need to create anti-bullying policies, commit to positive workplace relationships, set safe work systems and respond promptly to complaints.

See our previous post on this topic for more details.

Set fair working conditions

Fair treatment of people is important while they are working. This includes fair remuneration for paid workers, adequate training, good communications at all levels, and providing regular breaks – both during the day and during the year.

For information on employee entitlements and conditions go to the FairWork site.

Our previous post on unfair dismissals also outlines when it is lawful (and when it isn’t) to dismiss an employee and touches on redundancy issues.

You reap the benefits

These matters are not just about being a charitable, ethical and compliant employer. Providing a safe working environment and fair work conditions helps improve productivity and reduce absenteeism and staff turnover. So in the end, employers as well as employees reap the rewards.

As well as helping with developing risk management programs we are available to discuss your insurance needs. Contact us to find out more.

Links for more information: 

Managing church volunteers: SafeWork Essential Guide for volunteer health & safety

Workplace health & safety guideline: SafeWork Model WHS laws.

CCI: link to all our posts on Healthy Workplaces.

Written by Tess Oliver




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