Latest News & Events18th January 2018
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All organisations have a duty of care to protect their volunteers from harm. Failure to meet that duty could result in the organisation and its trustees being liable if a volunteer is injured as a result. This sheet outlines some of the basic information that you need to know in relation to health and safety for volunteers.
Much of Health and Safety legislation is designed to protect workers and employees and does not cover volunteers. It is hard to imagine a situation however where it would be justifiable to treat volunteers in a less favourable manner than paid staff even if it were possible to do so whilst maintaining a duty of care. The publication Volunteers and the Law available as a free download from Volunteering England explains this in more detail. For this reason volunteers should be included in an organisations' Health and Safety Policy.
To demonstrate that you have exercised your duty of care you will need to assess any potential risks that volunteers may encounter and take the necessary steps to minimise them. Each volunteer role should be subject to a risk assessment.
The Health and Safety Executive recommend a 5 step approach to risk assessment
The easiest and most systematic way to carry out a risk assessment and record your findings is to use a risk matrix table. This will help you to calculate the likelihood and seriousness of any risks. An example can be found in the Useful Documents Section
Carrying out a risk assessment requires a detailed knowledge of your organisations activities. Involving staff and volunteers in the process will give you an accurate picture of your working practices. The risks for example of volunteers visiting people in their homes are very different from those of working in an office environment.
This will depend on the nature of the hazard. You may need to