Practising sound injury-prevention strategies and maintaining a safe workplace for staff is as important in a church or non-profit environment as it is for any commercial operation. Injuries and accidents within a workplace setting can be distressing and costly in many ways. For example – in terms of absenteeism, compensation claims, loss of worker skills and time, increased workloads for other employees, extra payments for replacement workers, and the possibility of a negative impact on workplace morale.
Types of harm and injury that can occur in any workplace include sprains and strains, open / cut wounds, musculoskeletal or joint conditions, fractures, broken bones, and various other injuries. Precautions should be taken to reduce hazardous conditions, and to make the workplace as safe as possible.
In a church environment, clergy in particular may also be vulnerable to stress from long-working hours and the high expectations and demands of others. This may have the effect of making them more vulnerable to work-related illness or injury. As such it’s important that clergy (and all staff) take regular breaks and holidays. They should also take steps to manage their health and well-being – for example through seeking support and professional counselling.
Some typical safety issues in a work environment may include:
- Slippery flooring – for example from spills, cleaning or polishing.
- Damaged floor coverings.
- Trip hazards.
- Poor internal / external lighting.
- Inappropriate lifting and carrying techniques.
- Poorly-designed physical workspace setups.
- Demanding workloads and deadlines.
Church workplace health and safety tips:
- Floors should be kept clean and dry, and buckled or damaged floor coverings should be attended to promptly. Mats may need to be taped down to prevent people from tripping.
- Trip hazards should be removed from walking areas. This includes power and extension cords, storage boxes and old files.
- Steps and stairs should be kept in good repair and have appropriate guardrails. See our article on trip prevention on steps and stairs for more information.
- Adequate lighting should be provided both inside and outside the building, including at exits and in stairwells.
- Workspaces should be arranged in such a way as to reduce the risk of eye-strain and injuries from sitting, twisting or reaching, and repetitive motions.
- Staff should be aware of correct lifting and carrying techniques to avoid muscular strain injuries. Equipment (e.g. trolleys) should be provided where appropriate. See our article on manual-handling tasks here.
- When storing items on shelving heavier items should be placed on the lower levels. Items on higher shelves may also need to be secured to prevent them from toppling.
- All workers should be provided with adequate training and instructions for their roles so that they are fully equipped to carry out their tasks and so that they know and understand what is expected of them.
To assist you in documenting workplace incidents, an Incident Report Form and Incident Register form are available for download from our website Forms section.
It’s also vital that your church’s Workers’ Compensation insurance policy is kept up-to-date at all times in case of workplace accidents or injuries. More information on Occupational Health and Safety can be found on the Faith Insurance website and also at SafeWork Australia.
Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: employees, health & safety, volunteers