National Safety Month: Getting Ahead of Preventable InjuriesAugust 8, 2023 / CSkidmore
Preventable injuries are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S, according to the National Safety Council. In an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of preventable injuries and provide people with resources to address and prevent them, the National Safety Council marked June as National Safety Month.
National Safety Month focuses on four safety topics each year. This year’s topics include emergency preparedness, slip, trips and falls, heat-related illnesses and hazard recognition. Understanding how each topic impacts the safety of their organizations, can greatly assist nonprofit professionals in keeping employees, residents and guests safe.
Training & Accountability
Before diving into how nonprofit professionals can make their organizations safer, it is important to understand that safety is really rooted in training and accountability. Though many nonprofits may not have the resources to secure safety managers, they should consider forming a safety committee to oversee safety across the organization. Once that committee is established, they should either create protocols specific to their organization or reevaluate their existing protocols to ensure those protocols effectively address their unique risks. Employee roles should also be outlined in these protocols to ensure they know how they are expected to enforce safety.
Employees should be trained on protocols at hire, annually, when there is a change to protocols or when there is an incident. Once they are trained and fully understand their safety roles, they should be held accountable for those roles. Systems of accountability will vary by organization, however employees should understand how severe even the smallest accident can be, especially when working with vulnerable populations.
Best Practices for Safety
As we mark National Safety Month, nonprofit leaders should take the time to focus on four safety topics highlighted by the National Safety Council and explore best practices to mitigate those risks. Best practices for these risks could include:
- Establish an emergency preparedness plan. Nonprofit leaders do not want to wait until an emergency happens to make a plan. An emergency preparedness plan should include fire evacuation protocols, disaster protocols and more. Nonprofit professionals can access resources to assist them in creating an emergency preparedness plan online via the S Department of Homeland Security, The National Fire Protection Association and others. An insurance professional who understands the unique risks nonprofits face, is another valuable resource when going over a nonprofit’s emergency preparedness plan. At Lamb Insurance Services, we can ensure the plan covers all bases, as well as provide best practices to help mitigate risks.
- Assess for slip, trip and fall risks. While they might not seem like the most dangerous accidents, slips, trips and falls can cause significant injuries, particularly for those with mobility challenges, and financial distress for nonprofit operators. A nonprofit safety committee should have guidelines to ensure facilities are regularly assessed for slip-trip and fall risks. The survey should include ensuring walkways are clear, cords are cleared or properly covered and marked, and that handrails are sturdy.
- Protect against heat-related illnesses: When the weather hits high temperatures, employees, residents, third-party service providers and guests could all be at risk of falling victim to a heat-related illness. Nonprofit leaders should ensure HVAC systems are properly maintained and provide a cool place for residents and others to escape the heat. Residents should remain indoors on days with extreme heat or be monitored closely and provided adequate water and designated break times to prevent heat-related illnesses. Similarly for employees and others on campus, any time outside should be limited, and employees and service providers should be provided regular, designated breaks with access to water. To access resources to prevent heat-related illness, visit the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) website here: https://www.osha.gov/heat/employer-responsibility.
- Recognize and report hazards: Nonprofit professionals should be trained in hazard recognition and how to report and/or address any findings. Hazards will vary by organization, but some might include reporting when lights are out in walkways, being able to recognize overexertion in fellow employees and residents or reporting areas where slips, trips or falls are common. To help nonprofit leaders identify their nonprofits’ unique risks, a risk assessment should be done on all properties. Lamb Insurance Services can assist in conducting such risk assessments to ensure they are thorough and effective.
While National Safety Month is an opportune time to highlight the importance of general safety throughout nonprofit organizations, nonprofit leaders should be prioritizing safety all year round. Consider contacting Lamb Insurance Services to find out how we can help strengthen your organization’s safety protocols and evaluate your insurance portfolio.