March 26, 2020
By: Jackie Edwards
OSHA has begun paying closer attention to worker safety with nonprofit organizations in the last few years, awarding nearly $11 million to help high-risk workers. Safety standards have begun to shift to having heavier regulations more akin to for-profit companies, helping to protect those in the employ of nonprofits. As some adopt new health and safety models to work towards a safer work environment, there’s always more to be done. The United States is home to as many as 1,500,000 nonprofits, a number that grows with each passing day. But with nearly three million workplace injuries registered, how can nonprofits set the benchmark for safety standards? Safety in the Outdoors
One of the leading roles for nonprofit organizations is philanthropic giving to support construction and education. Because of these goals, many nonprofit organizations operate in the natural outdoors, which unavoidably exposes employees and volunteers to any number of threats to their physical safety. Using tools, encountering wildlife, dangerous terrain, severe weather, and extreme cold and heat may be the most common threats, but are far from an exclusive list. These threats are faced by those working in the outdoors as a whole, whether it be construction, wilderness, or any other myriad of tasks.
Avoid the Fatal Four
The “fatal four” is a set of commonly fatal workplace injuries that, while most common in construction, apply to all outdoor workplaces. These four are falls, electrocutions, and being struck by an object or caught between moving objects. nonprofit organizers should ensure that the workplace is safer by reducing the likelihood of these four deadly accidents. Consider proper safety gear and training an absolute necessity.
Prepare for the Worst
The best way to avoid the worst case scenario of an injured employee is to put all preparations in place. Experts suggest thorough and in-depth risk assessments to assess what needs to be done to make the workplace as safe as possible. Putting proper plans and preparation in place is certain to not only reduce the likelihood of an accident, but also reduce the severity of the accidents that still occur. Worker’s compensation insurance plans, for example, are estimated to reduce workplace fatalities by 22 percent.
Workplace travel and transportation incidents are the most frequent fatal events, accounting for approximately 40% of all deaths. The best way to lower the likelihood of incidents is to cut down on transportation rates, but this isn’t always possible. Instead, nonprofits should set an environmentally-minded example of ridesharing and carpooling when possible while also reducing travel if applicable.
OSHA releases updates to their guidelines on an annual basis, acting as a basis for those setting their specified health and safety guidelines. While it can seem to be a tall order, it’s vital for nonprofit organizations to ensure the safety of volunteers and employees. Setting these standards in the workplace environment is the most effective way to set the same standards as an example for other nonprofit organizations, helping to create an industry-wide set of standards and expectations.