Many years ago, I discovered a bee infestation in my home. As I tried to find where the bees had gained access, I unintentionally caused the bees to feel threatened. They launched into attack mode stinging me twice.
To avoid further stings, I called a bee professional. Upon arrival, he located the access point and found thousands of bees claiming squatter’s rights to my attic. The intriguing part of this experience was seeing how the bees worked together, despite the large number, to keep their colony thriving. Each bee, including the queen, has specific job functions. By doing their jobs successfully, their operation runs like a well-oiled machine. The bee infestation in my attic no doubt must have taken months of planning and preparation.
Planning Your Work BeeSuccessful work bees are planned well in advance and scheduled to occur at least once per season to keep up with maintenance. The Safety Officer and Safety Committee should conduct self-inspections before each work bee to determine what needs to be addressed. A few specific hazards to look for include loose handrails, frayed and loose carpeting or runners, trip hazards, obstructed doors, cluttered hallways and security camera servicing. Make a note of items that need repair or replacements such as emergency lights and indoor/outdoor lighting. Don’t forget to inspect the outside of your buildings for trees or bushes that need trimming.
Make sure you have the appropriate accessories, tools, and equipment necessary for the job. If your task requires the use of a ladder, always use spotters or an additional person to help prevent falls. Only experienced volunteers or professional help should use the ladders.
If using power tools, plan to have the appropriate safety gear and ensure they are safe and in good working condition. If your power tools need replacement parts, use the correct replacements. Plan ahead, so you have the right equipment and supplies for any needed paint job. Check that you have gathered the right bulbs and other necessary items for electrical jobs and lighting replacements. Before the event, check that all gardening tools, brooms, shovels, and wheelbarrows are in working condition.
Meet with all those who will be participating in the event before the work bee to explain the day and its work goals. During this meeting, assign individuals to various jobs based on their skill set and provide necessary training if needed. If youth members are participating, assign them to age appropriate jobs with sufficient supervision.
Recruiting Your BeesWhile our work bees would be accomplished quite quickly if every single church member were involved, it is important to make sure that everyone is cleared to participate. Be sure to recruit qualified, age appropriate volunteers and hire professionals, that are licensed, bonded and insured for jobs requiring specialized skills.
Hired professionals should complete jobs such as:
- Electrical work
- Roofing repairs
- HVAC Repairs
- Major paint jobs
Protecting Your BeesAs a church leader, it is crucial to be sure you provide a safe environment for your volunteer working bees and hired professionals to work. Confer with your church safety committee and create a safety plan for potential emergencies that could occur during your event. Review the safety plan with all participants and make sure everyone understands it.
As part of your plan, make sure to have medical personnel on duty with plenty of first aid supplies available.
Whether your work bee will occur on a hot, sunny day or in the dead of winter, always keep in mind the weather for your set day and how it will affect your workers. Avoid days forecasted for extreme hot or cold weather. Make sure your workers take frequent breaks. Have plenty of water on hand and readily available to make sure everyone is well hydrated and properly dressed for the weather and the job they are doing.
Will your church provide food during the event? Make sure it is stored appropriately until serving time. Individuals handling the food should follow kitchen and food hygiene requirements. Read Adventist Risk Management, Inc.’s Kitchen Safety info sheet for more information.
Work Bees Provide Long-term BenefitsWork bees help go a long way towards accident prevention and risk control. As you create a consistent schedule of work bee events or seasonal maintenance tasks, your ministry will reap the rewards of a well-maintained facility. Get involved in creating safe environments for your church family and guests. Be aware of the hazards that can affect your church and work to get rid of them.
Use ARM’s church safety resources including self-inspection forms, guides, seasonal maintenance forms and other materials. With an appropriately planned work bee, it can conclude safely and successfully.