When you are planning an event for your nonprofit organization, you must consider event safety basics for your volunteers as well as your guests. This may seem like a large task. Start with asking one question: “What could go wrong?” That is the foundational question of risk management, whether for a special event or for daily operations.
To answer this question, begin by discussing what your staff and your volunteers do, or will be doing if a special event is taking place, taking into account the history of injuries and liability incidents affecting nonprofit organizations. This will help you identify the most common risk exposures.
Potential Sources of Injury
Falling is one of, if not the most common type of injury claim. Consider the environment where staff and volunteers work. Would it be possible for guests to slip, fall, and injure themselves? What fall hazards can you find and eliminate?
Injuries can occur before the event even begins, particularly if your volunteers will be lifting and carrying heavy objects. Ensure that staff and volunteers fully understand proper lifting technique (lift with the legs, not the back!), make sure loads are not too heavy (make smaller loads if necessary), and do your best to provide specific materials-handling equipment such as dollies or hand trucks.
Mishandling of tools can be also detrimental. Have staff and volunteers demonstrate that they can safely use the tools they need for their tasks prior to them beginning their work. It is important to properly train each volunteer and have veteran volunteers train newer ones.
Who will be driving, as part of their work assignments? Obtain a Motor Vehicle Record, and proof of current vehicle inspection prior to allowing those individuals to drive for the organization. It demonstrates your “due diligence,” which can help protect you against charges of negligence. Sadly, there has been a record of serious claims involving volunteer drivers.
Who’s that Volunteer?
If you are hosting a rather large event, you most likely will be utilizing volunteers whom you do not know very well. Obtain a criminal background check if the volunteer will have contact with vulnerable people such as the elderly, children, or those with disabilities. If the volunteer will be handling money, obtain a credit history.
A large part of this simply comes down to your due diligence, which can protect your organization against claims that you were negligent, meaning you did something you should have known not to do, or failed to do something you should have known to do. The peace of mind that will come with obtaining nonprofit volunteer insurance is priceless and can save your organization in a time of need. You can insure a volunteer against the most common risks he or she faces, for less than the price of lunch!
Volunteers Insurance Service Association, Inc. (VIS) was established in 1972 for the purpose of providing insurance and risk management services for volunteer-based organizations. In addition to still providing these insurance services today on a nationwide scale, we have expanded to provide noninsurance resources for members to manage their risks and improve their operations. By transferring the volunteer risk exposure to our program, we can help you protect your organization. Contact us today at (800) 222-8920 for more information on our programs and services.