Several municipalities, universities, and companies that rely on volunteer work. A well-managed volunteer program will help ensure your volunteers and organization remain safe, organized, and efficient. Consider the following when organizing volunteer labor.

Volunteer Management

  • Establish a coordinator – Appointing a coordinator can help focus efforts on many aspects of managing volunteer labor.
  • Insurance – Check with your workers’ compensation and liability insurance carrier to see if volunteers are covered under your policy.
  • Documentation – Protect your organization by having the appropriate documentation in place, such as a volunteer application, background agreement, release forms, and training records.

Volunteer Safety

  • Match tasks with abilities/skills – Volunteers are eager to help in any way possible
    • Ability – Ensure that volunteers can perform a task correctly and safely. Volunteers who overextend themselves are more susceptible to injury.
    • Skill – Before volunteers get to work, equip them with the proper training to complete their jobs. Proper instruction is essential before letting volunteers get to work using power tools or other potentially hazardous equipment or working from heights. Give guidance about what to do if there’s an accident. Consider hiring a professional if a task requires specialized skills (working from heights, electricity, power tools, etc.).
  • Proper equipment
    • Protect your volunteers by making sure tools and equipment are in good repair. Ensure safety guards are in place, ladders are inspected, etc.
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be available to all volunteers. Ensure volunteers are trained on which job tasks require which PPE, and that it’s properly worn and cared for.
  • Outdoor safety considerations
    • Inclement weather can increase risks associated with volunteer work. Ensure volunteers are trained on heat- and cold-related illnesses. Postpone outdoor work if threatening weather is predicted.
  • Indoor safety considerations
    • Slips, trips, and falls are leading causes of injuries in the workplace. Help volunteers avoid injury by maintaining your walkways and stairs, installing safety mats where necessary, and recommending non-slip footwear if needed.
    • Ergonomic issues can lead to injuries. Prevent strains and sprains by improving workstation ergonomics. Provide mechanical equipment to help when heavy lifting is necessary.
  • Volunteer drivers
    • Select safe volunteer drivers. Conduct background and motor vehicle records checks.
    • Drivers should be trained on safe driving practices. Consider requiring the completion of a defensive driving class. Make sure that drivers adhere to basic practices, such as buckling seatbelts and refraining from using cell phones while driving.
    • If drivers are asked to operate a passenger van, ensure they are aware of the risks and hazards involved when driving these larger profile vehicles.