Safety while volunteering
Your volunteering should be a very safe experience. However, there are a number of steps you can take to maximise your safety, and the safety of those you come into contact with.
The volunteering opportunities which are offered via the University have completed basic health and safety checks but you should still be aware of any risks involved.
If you source your own volunteering placement you need to take responsibility for making sure you are going to be safe. For example:
- Does the organisation's insurance cover volunteers?
- Does the organisation have risk assessments relating to your volunteer role?
- Will you be volunteering on your own or with others?
- What training will you receive?
You have a responsibility for your own safety. If during the volunteering you have any concerns about safety, it is important that you talk to your organisation about them. If you feel you are unable to do this please contact the Volunteering and Community Engagement Team for further advice.
When you start volunteering the organisation should provide you with an induction. This should include:
- Introduction to your supervisor/contact person and other relevant staff
- Explanation of your role, tasks and responsibilities
- Explanation of health and safety procedures including where the first aid box is, accident reporting and fire procedures
- Tour of the premises (if appropriate)
- Explanation of any relevant paperwork and systems you are required to complete
- Opportunity for discussion and training
- Any relevant training required to carry out the task.
Volunteering from an organisation’s premises
- When visiting or volunteering from an organisation’s premises, you must follow any safety instructions you are given by them.
- If you will be volunteering from the organisation’s premises, they should provide you with a health & safety induction when you first start. If this is not done get in touch with the Volunteering and Community Engagement Team. The health & safety induction should cover:
- Their general safety policy and procedures
- Procedures to be adopted in the event of an emergency
- Emergency evacuation, location of fire exits
- Procedures for accidents/first aid
- General security at the premises.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions if the induction does not clearly explain all these areas.
- If any of your volunteer activities involve working with machinery, hazardous substances or similar, this must have been part of the original volunteer opportunity description, and the organisation must provide training. You must not undertake this activity unless they have provided this and you feel safe and competent to do this work.
- Always think about what you are doing and how safe it is. Make sure you consider the safety of others as well as yourself so that you don’t endanger the people you volunteer with, whether staff of the organisation, the public or other volunteers.
A risk assessment is a detailed inspection of what in the workplace could cause harm to people so that employers and voluntary organisations can decide whether they have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harmful situations. It is simply the process of thinking about tasks, deciding what risks are involved with these tasks and doing something to minimise the risks occuring. For example, ensuring that PC wires are tidied away so that they are not trip hazzards or that workers/volunteers who are handling tools have been given sufficient training.
The organisation you are volunteering with should complete a risk assessment on the activity that you will be involved in.