An Introduction to Safety
The safety of your staff, volunteers and board should be considered at all times. Do you have staff, and if so do you have a Health and Safety Policy in place? You need to ensure you are doing your due diligence to ensure volunteers and participants at events are safe as well.
In the business world companies work with Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation and Certifying Partners, to develop health and safety management systems and receive a certification called COR – Certificate of Recognition. At this time of publication there were over 10,000 Alberta companies holding their COR.
Although this type of certification will not be applicable to many non-profits, the common factor is Risk Management. By being aware of the risks involved in your programs and services, and identifying ways to manage those risks, non-profits have the opportunity to offer those they serve a reassurance that they are committed to safety in all applicable areas.
Let’s start with a brief overview of the terms associated with Risk Management.
What is risk? Wikipedia has quite an overwhelming definition of risk, but the introductory statement is “Risk is the potential of losing something of value”. In a non-profit that includes assets such as facilities, property (think about all the equipment sport associations own), your volunteers, members, staff, reputation, funds, programs and individual’s information.
Risk management is the process or procedures you put in place to protect the organization from these risks. You cannot operate without a degree of risk, but you should have a strategy in pace to identify risk and minimize it.
A healthy approach to risk management is to perform scheduled, focused assessments of potential risks. Using a comprehensive checklist helps to quickly review a wide range of aspects.
No one introduces the topic of Risk Management better than Volunteer Alberta. On their website they tell us:
“Any organization that provides programs to the public has a moral, legal and spiritual obligation to institute appropriate risk management practices for volunteer programs. This is not only the right thing to do; it is legally required under the principle of duty of care.”
Marlene Deboisbriand (past president, Volunteer Canada)
Risk Management is:
- The process that an organization uses to identify, assess, control, and minimize the risks of bodily injury or financial loss arising from its activities and operations.
- Discipline for managing the possibility that some future event will cause harm.
- It provides strategies and techniques to recognize and confront threats or danger.
- To avoid, reduce or prevent risk from imposing negative consequences.
Risk Summit: Non-profit Risk Management Centre
Canadian Journal of Volunteer Resource Management