Those who serve our environment are special souls. When an event occurs that threatens our environment, such as oil spills like the one California is working to clean up, faithful volunteers show up in remarkable numbers to save the endangered animals and plant life affected by the disaster. While they gingerly pick up oil-covered seals and water fowl, their only concern is for the life of the animal. These people put their own safety at risk in order to save the wildlife and preserve our environment. They are steadfast and faithful to the cause, but who is looking out for them? Our environmental soldiers need to be protected while they work. Setting up a volunteer safety protocol should be as important as the work these tireless volunteers are performing.
Provide Protective Gear
When sending volunteers to clean-up sites, it is appropriate to provide them with protective gear, such as simple disposable protective coveralls and disposable gloves. For something like an oil spill, where the chemical is not going to impact the volunteers with the same devastating consequences that it has on wildlife, this type of clothing protection should be adequate. Providing volunteers with thorough training on how to properly clean up after an oil spill will not only make the task go smoothly, it will also help reduce the risk of impact on volunteers.
Follow OSHA Guidelines
Although most chemical spills are handled by trained and paid employees, there are times when the event is so overwhelming that volunteers will be called in. It is important for them to be trained to follow OSHA guidelines and procedures. These types of environmental tragedies require strict adherence to OSHA protocol, allowing everyone to remain safe while working together to clean up the toxic spill and help restore the environment. While this is what everyone is working to accomplish, personal safety should never take a back seat. Help your volunteers understand the dangers of helping with the clean up, as well as the importance of following rules and regulations to maintain their safety on the clean up site.
Even with the best training and the most careful volunteers, accidents and exposure still happen, so be prepared. These people have come out and given everything they have to give, and they deserve to be protected. Having coverage for all your environmental preservationists is so important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, volunteers need to be covered in the event that the clean-up results in health issues or bodily injury.
While performing tasks as directed by an agency, that agency is held responsible for those volunteers. No one wants to end up in a lawsuit as a result of injury because the agency failed to provide adequate insurance coverage for all aspects of activity the volunteers are involved in. Simply put, the cost of insurance is much less than the cost of a lawsuit.
Provide insurance because it is the right thing to do. These volunteers sacrifice so much to help the environment, and they shouldn’t have to worry about the cost of care as a result of their efforts. Agencies should protect their volunteers by providing insurance and a little peace of mind. Take care of the volunteers who help to take care of the environment.