• P.O. Box 1894
  • Escondido, CA 92033-1894
  • Monday - Friday
  • 8AM PST – 5PM PST

Safety Plan Essentials

If an armed intruder entered your facility, would you know what to do? What if someone fell on a slippery walkway outside your building and threatened a lawsuit? Some situations are out of your control, but many aren’t. That’s why comprehensive safety plans are a huge asset.

Thinking about how to handle possible scenarios your organization may face and developing preventive measures can significantly reduce risk. “It’s important to have planned responses, not knee-jerk reactions, for emergency situations,” says Eric Spacek, director of risk management and loss control at GuideOne Insurance.

With the new year just around the corner, now is a good time to create a safety plan or revisit an existing one. “Factor in current events and evolving risks when working on your plan,” Spacek says. Another smart move? Use the EFFECT® framework – and considerations for each topic – to organize your plan and cover your bases:

Emergency preparedness — You can make scary situations more manageable by planning for crisis scenarios such as arson and fire, church violence, medical emergencies, severe weather and disaster relief.

• Develop a crisis communication strategy that includes media outreach, facility closing announcements and emergency phone numbers

• Train leaders, staff, ushers, greeters and anyone who works with children on emergency response

Offer first-aid, CPR and other emergency training to staff, volunteers and members, and make first-aid kits accessible

• Clearly mark all exit routes and conduct regular evacuation drills

Facility safety — Inside and out, a well-maintained facility will help you avoid costly claims and damage due to slips and falls, frozen pipes, building use by outside groups and more.

• Regularly inspect walking surfaces and correct fall hazards such as debris, cracks and potholes

• Create facility usage policies to hold outside users of your organization accountable

• Always lock doors and windows when the building is unoccupied

• Hire licensed and/or certified professionals to inspect electrical, fire prevention, and heating and cooling systems and make repairs

Financial safeguards — Set guidelines on how to collect, count, deposit and report finances.

• Train ushers on how to take the collection and keep it safe. Lock up cash.

• Maintain separation of duties between the ushers, counters, financial secretary and treasurer

• Schedule an impartial, scheduled audit of your books

• Track and log all accounts and keep financial records secure

Employee and volunteer safety — Training and communication are essential to protecting staff – and your organization – from on-the-job liability.

• Create an employee handbook with employment policies and practices

• Train anyone who works in your kitchen on safe food prep, serving and sanitation procedures

• Establish a social media policy that defines what is acceptable and the consequences for violating rules

• Articulate policies that define what constitutes sexual harassment – and that harassment will not be tolerated

• Require that volunteers sign liability release forms before participating in higher-risk activities such as disaster relief efforts and mission trips

Children and youth safety — Protecting children starts with staff screening and continues with providing a safe environment for learning and play.

Carefully screen employees and volunteers

• Hold all activities for children in central, highly visible locations

• Train all employees and volunteers on how to properly work with children and adolescents

• Gather completed consent forms, such as “Participation Authorization” and “Consent to Emergency Medical Treatment,” from parents

Regularly inspect areas of the church used for a nursery or toddler care to identify potential hazards

Transportation safeguards — Help members, employees and volunteers get to and from their destinations safely with regular vehicle maintenance and approved, experienced drivers.

• Pre-select and screen all drivers

• Conduct pre- and post-trip inspections on all vehicles

• Equip vehicles with safety equipment and accident reporting kits

• Communicate trip safety procedures to participants before each departure

• Require that seat belts be worn at all times

For more safety resources, visit GuideOne.com.