Safety officers play a critical role in the well-being of the local church. If this role could be compared to any occupation in biblical times, it would be the job of a shepherd. Shepherds have a personal interest in the well-being of that which they look after. While shepherds provide many other services, one of their primary roles is as protector of their flock. Does your church have a safety officer to help guard the congregation you have been entrusted with? As we explore the responsibilities of a safety officer, let’s also assess the importance of this individual to your church.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Safety OfficerOne of the fundamental responsibilities of a safety officer is to be involved! It takes a collective effort to maintain a consistently safe environment for your congregation. Safety committees should include church pastors, elders, church board members, designated church members, and the safety officer. This committee should coordinate self-inspections, emergency plans, activity checklists, and proper accident reporting. By having a safety officer on your team, you are including an individual who has safety as their number one priority. Often, your leadership may be occupied with their own essential job duties. The safety officers are there to keep safety at the forefront by being involved in safety meetings.
Safety officers are the eyes and ears of the church when it comes to safety. Some disasters are inevitable, but most can be planned for ahead of time. Because of specific geological areas, some churches are susceptible to certain disasters more than others. Holding drills for emergencies such as a tornado or earthquake can prepare your church members and staff and keep losses to a minimum. Other exercises such as fire and active shooter drills help ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go during those specific events. Safety meetings bring awareness to drill preparation and other possible hazards that can be avoided by reviewing self-inspections.
Common losses any church may incur are from slips, trips, and falls. The church may prevent some of these occurrences by surveying church property regularly. Over time, wear and tear happens to all church property and contributes to unsafe conditions for church members and employees. Potholes, broken steps, and cracked sidewalks can be identified by conducting a visual survey of the church premises. Inspecting the church building itself pinpoints issues such as torn or wrinkled carpet, broken handrails, and wet floors. The safety officer has the distinct duty to not only find these repairable detriments but also to follow through by making sure these issues are corrected quickly.
How the Safety Officers Can Help the ChurchBenjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Performing annual emergency safety drills with your congregation prepares your church for specific scenarios it may face. These drills train your church in how to appropriately respond to threats, communicate effectively during emergencies, and builds confidence to respond efficiently when disasters happen. Safety officers not only help conduct these drills, but they can also bring awareness to your church organization by establishing a connection with local emergency response teams.
Another important responsibility of your safety officer is the proper planning for church activities and proper accident reporting. Permission slips, transportation, and medical kits are a few of the provisions that should be used when planning any activity. Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM) has created resources to walk the safety officer through proper vehicle preparation and record-keeping forms in the event of an accident during an activity.
Some losses can be prevented with basic safety practices. Self-inspection allows you to be proactive instead of reactive. Most common slips, trips, and falls can be avoided by simply moving loose wires or straightening out a wrinkled rug. By walking through and around your church premises, your safety officer can catch potential hazards before they become significant losses. Use ARM’s Church Self-Inspection Form to begin.
Making the Church as Safe as PossibleThe Safety Officer assists the church in keeping it as protected as possible. A few questions every safety officer should consider include:
Does your church conduct safety drills?
When was the last time your church conducted a safety drill?
What drills has your church conducted in the last three years?
Does your church conduct self-inspections?
When was the last time a self-inspection was conducted?
Does your church have checklists for activity planning, travel planning, and accident reporting?
Safety officers are vital in serving and protecting the church. ARM is here to be a resource to ensure that the safety officer of your church is equipped with everything needed to be a successful shepherd. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is our flock whom the Lord has entrusted us to protect.
For more information on safety, please visit ARM’s Church Safety Resources page.