Health and Safety
10 Easy Steps for Congregations

Getting started

The way we care for our employees, volunteers and visitors is an expression of God's love. Whenever people connect with us they should feel confident they are in a safe and caring environment. We can demonstrate our care for others by planning for, and addressing issues that might be harmful. Because health and safety is so important, there are also laws that govern the processes we need to adopt.

Managing health and safety however doesn't need to be complicated costly-or time consuming. In fact, it is probably easier than you think. This guide has been developed to help you meet your moral and legal obligations.

You can find a copy of all ten Health and Safety steps here - we encourage you to print this out and put it in a clear and visible space in your congregation office.

Watch this video for an overview of the ten steps.

Having a health and safety policy statement puts your commitment in writing and shows everyone you take health and safety seriously.

Commit to action

  • Click here to access the manual Making a Commitment to develop a health and safety policy statement
  • Consult with staff and other workers about the policy statement
  • Display the agreed policy statement in a prominent place.

Resources

The actions taken in the first minutes following an emergency can save lives. Planning for emergencies helps minimise harm to individuals and property.

Commit to action

  • Access the manual on First Aid.
  • Access the manual on Emergency Planning and follow the steps to develop an emergency plan.
  • Ensure emergency evacuation plans are displayed.
  • Undertake emergency drills at least annually.

Resources

Resources for specific emergencies / planning

Inspections are an important tool to proactively examine the workplace and identify hazards.

Commit to action

  • Develop a workplace inspection schedule.
  • Inspect the workplace using the church inspection checklist found here.
  • Use the risk management process shown in step 4.

Resources

Remember you can contact the Property Team at property@nswact.uca.org.au for advice and support on any property matter.

To prevent harm a proactive approach to managing risks must be adopted. Risk management involves identifying hazards, assessing and controlling risks.

Commit to action

  • Identify hazards that could impact people (refer back to step 3)
  • Follow the risk management process for all identified hazards.

Resources 

Tools

For more procedures relating to more specific risks, please visit the Resources for Specific Risks tab below.

It is important to establish ways volunteers are selected, supported and monitored in the workplace. We could also be responsible for an injury caused to or by a contractor.

Commit to action

  • Access the Congregation Volunteer Policy and Procedures.
  • Access Contractor Management Policy.
  • Ensure others that hire our facilities have safety plans in place.

Resources 

It is easier to maintain a safe workplace when we consult with everyone involved. Work, Health and Safety inductions and training also help ensure employees and volunteers know how to work safely.

Commit to action

  • Follow the manual Consultation and Communication to develop a consultation procedure.
  • Follow the manual Issue Resolution to develop an issue resolution procedure.

Resources

While all people should be protected from harm, there are additional legal and ethical considerations for protecting vulnerable people.

Commit to action

  • Ensure areas for children can be supervised and are safe.
  • Ensure people who work with children and vulnerable adults have appropriate checks and training
  • Complete risk assessments for children's and youth programs.

Resources

The health and safety of our employees (and others) is of utmost importance. If an injury does occur, there are benefits for helping people return to work and recover in the workplace.

Commit to action

  • Follow the Incident and Injury Notification manual 

For congregations who directly employ a worker:

  • Access the relevant Workers Compensation and Return to Work manual for ACT or NSW
  • Display the relevant workers compensation poster (as required by WorkSafe ACT and SafeWork NSW)

Resources

There are a number of benefits of keeping Work, Health and Safety documentation. Not only does it demonstrate you are meeting your legal requirements, it can save time and frustration.

Commit to action

  • Complete and update your Work, Health and Safety risk register.
  • Keep incident records for at least five years.
  • Keep records of first aid provided (see step 2)
  • Report insurance matters to the Synod and more serious matter to the Presbytery. 
  • Keep records of consultation (see step 6)

Resources

Should you have any questions or need assistance with safety, contact your presbytery or the Risk Manager at the Synod Office can help provide practical advice to help you meet your requirements.  

To contact Belinda Ritchie:

Phone: 0472 802 795
Email: belindar@nswact.uca.org.au

The resources below support specific risk management activities that may arise for your congregation: