For many of our nonprofit/human service program participants summer signals, not just a change of season, but a shifting of focus and an influx in the number of youth participants. With increased numbers, often comes the addition of seasonal and part-time program staff and volunteers, and organizations are faced with the challenge of managing the inherent risks brought on by summer programs. As always, careful screening of employees and volunteers is vital. Employees and volunteers should be oriented to the organization’s various safety policies and procedures. Well-trained and well-supervised staff can make the difference in the delivery of high quality summer programming.
Summer program activities need to be well thought-out and accompanied by sound risk management strategies to address all potential hazards and ensure the safety of participants, staff and volunteers alike.
- Site-specific emergency preparedness plans should account for a wide-range of emergency situations (i.e. lost camper, severe weather, natural disaster, wildfire, health threats, and campus lockdown).
- Emergency plans should be reviewed by local emergency response, and be included in the orientation for all staff, volunteers, campers, and user groups. Regularly scheduled emergency response drills should also be performed.
- During the hot summer months, program participants should be provided ample drinking water, or be required to bring their own water bottle, to fend off the effects of dehydration and heat stress.
- Having a supply of sunscreen on hand will help protect participants and staff from harmful ultra-violet rays and prevent sunburn.
- First aid kits should be inventoried and stocked before summer programs are underway.
- Careful assessment is required for all high risk activities, such as swimming, boating, hiking, climbing, horseback riding, overnight camping, and off-site field trips.
- Swimming should only occur when certified lifeguards are on duty. Appropriate personal protective equipment (i.e. life jackets and helmets) are required for all applicable activities.
- All vendors should be thoroughly vetted, properly licensed/credentialed/ experienced, contracts reviewed and approved by legal counsel, liability waivers/release and hold-harmless agreements signed, and certificates of liability insurance in place.
- Facilities should be inspected, cleaned, well-organized, and free from trip & fall hazards prior to the onset of summer programs.
- Playground structures and landing surfaces need to be inspected for flaws and defects before being used by youth participants. Proper attention should be given to transportation risk as well.
- All vehicles should receive a thorough safety inspection and preventive maintenance.
- Drivers should be properly screened, orientated to transportation policies and procedures, and receive training on defensive and distracted driving, and conduct behind-the-wheel skills in relation to the specific vehicles being driven.
If you have any additional questions or comments about this information, please contact our loss control department at [email protected].Suggestions and comments contained herein are provided for purposes of general education only. Suggestions and comments are not intended for the purpose of providing you with legal advice or legal counsel, and are not intended to assure compliance with or complete analysis of any law, rule or regulation. In addition, suggestions and comments should not be interpreted to imply or infer that all exposures, hazards or loss potentials on any subject or issue were identified or considered. No warranty, or guaranty of accuracy, fitness or suitability, express or implied, is granted with respect to any of the information contained herein.