The safety officer is a crucial leader in the ministry of risk management. This vital role may often be overlooked. But, the safety officer’s top priority is to keep the ministry of risk management on the minds of the church board. The three main ways of doing this are through risk identification, risk control, and risk financing.
Risk IdentificationOne of the first jobs of the safety officer is helping the organization to identify risk. The safety officer should conduct a self-inspection of the property at least once a year. It is helpful to have a deacon assist in the inspection. By using ARM’s Self-Inspection Form (link) the safety officer can identify potential problems.
It may be wise to conduct a self-inspection before winter to identify maintenance problems that could jeopardize the building. During the winter season, it is common for snow and ice to build up on the roof. This can lead to costly leaks as well as dangerous runoff when the ice and snow melt.
Risk ControlAfter the safety officer identifies risks, the safety officer is also to control the risk. By working with the pastor and elders, the safety offer can help the church avoid, prevent, and reduce losses from occurring. Depending on the situation, the safety officer working with other leaders will have to decide when it’s better to avoid, prevent, or reduce the potential loss. These are defined as:
- Avoidance: the church avoids the risk by eliminating the hazard.
- Prevention: the church limits rather than eliminates the potential loss.
- Reduction: the church accepts that a loss might occur, but will do what it takes to minimize the loss.
Risk FinancingAfter the risks have been identified and controlled, the last step is to finance the risk. Risk financing uses insurance to reduce the potential exposure for the church. Buying insurance, however, does not release the organization from taking the necessary precautions to avoid an accident from happening in the first place.
The potential financial loss from uncontrolled risk does more than simply hurt the bottom line of the church budget. The negative impact on the ministry of the church, or “opportunity cost,”must be factored into the decision to finance risk. If the church is hesitant to cover the cost of the risk, they must consider what ministries they are willing to stop doing if the church suffers a loss.
The ministry of the safety officer is a team effort that involves the board, pastors, elders, and deacons. It starts with identifying potential risks, determining how to control or minimize those risks, and ensuring that any potential losses do not deter the church from its mission. It is only by performing their due diligence that the safety officer can help to maintain and protect the church organization.
"For the lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers” Proverbs 11:14 New International Version (NIV)
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