Benjamin Franklin said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” His statement highlights something at the core of risk management: preparation and planning. Although you prepare and plan ahead for potential risks and liabilities, there is no guarantee you won’t have an incident during the event. Still, it certainly adds layers of protection and helps you to be prepared for the unexpected.To help you in your planning and preparation, Adventist Risk Management provides a form titled “Trip/Off-Site Activity Planning Checklist.” This document outlines essential risk management items to be discussed during the planning phase of any church or school activity.
TransportationIt is important to highlight the do’s and don’ts in choosing the right transportation for the event or activity. The North American Division (NAD) Working Policy prohibits 15-passenger vans and recommends alternative vehicles such as minivans, SUVs, and school buses. For more details about the danger of 15-passenger vans, learn more about the risks and the alternatives.
Suppose your local church or school decides to use a privately-owned vehicle. In that case, the vehicle needs to be inspected to ensure it is in good working condition and can be used for the upcoming activity. Repairs and maintenance should be documented and kept on file.
Driver SelectionChoosing the right driver is critically important to reduce the chances of a car accident. The NAD Working Policy states that drivers should be "properly licensed and comply with all federal, state and/or provincial laws for the class of vehicle being operated. The recommended minimum age for drivers shall be twenty-one (21) years. A minimum allowable age of nineteen (19) years old may be granted with the approval of the conference officers. The driving record (Motor Vehicle Record) of each driver shall be obtained from state/provincial records and reviewed on a regular basis. Drivers shall have an acceptable driving record during the previous three years with not more than two traffic citations and no accidents that results in a conviction of a misdemeanor or criminal charge while driving any vehicle. When a driver does not meet the above driving standard, he/she shall not be assigned to or retained for a driving position."
- Parent/Guardian Permission Slips and Assumption of Risk Form– It is important to describe and provide enough details about the upcoming activity and its risks.
- Medical Release Forms – These forms help the organizers and leaders assist the participants during a medical emergency if medical attention is needed.
- Activity/Site Approval by Proper Authorities – If you organize an event to be held at a city/state/province-owned location, it is crucial to request approval before the event date. You will also need to provide proper documentation such as certificates of insurance, application, etc.
- Accident Medical Insurance – Depending on the type of activity and the geographic location where the activity occurs, a supplemental policy can be obtained through the ARM website at travel hub. This policy is intended to cover the individual wherever they go during the selected period indicated on the application. Please visit our website at https://adventistrisk.org/en-us/insurance or contact your conference office or the ARM Account Executive for more details about each specific coverage.
SupervisionThis is an area where the church organization receives numerous claims and allegations stating that the organization has not provided quality or sufficient supervisors for the assigned activity. Therefore, it is strongly suggested to engage the local church/school leadership in conversation and review this critical safety item.
When selecting volunteers to be supervisors for any church/school activity, careful consideration should be given to minimize the abuse risk. The NAD Working Policy under Section FB 20 states that "all volunteers are required to participate in a screening procedure that will include a signed Volunteer Ministry Information Form, wherever possible, a criminal background check, and it is recommended that there be three (3) character references, wherever possible. Individuals who submit incomplete forms will not be considered for a volunteer position."
Emergency PlanningIf the unexpected happened at your next event, would you be prepared? Thinking outside of the box and considering the worst-case scenarios can help you to be prepared and ready to act quickly. For example, you may be able to save a child’s life if you have an EpiPen in the event of an allergic reaction. Be ready to discuss and brainstorm different emergency preparedness plans depending on the type of activity.
Activity and Safety EquipmentIt is critically important to select the proper equipment necessary to safely perform each activity. The type of equipment and supplies necessary may depend on the activity and location of your event. Leaders need to ensure both appropriate and sufficient safety equipment for every participant and that everything is in good working condition before each trip.
Preparation and proper planning are the keys to success. The ARM risk management tool, “Trip/Off-site Activity Planning Checklist,” helps you remember all essential safety items when organizing a church or school activity.
Related articles or resources:
- Vehicle Pre-Trip Inspection Form
- Vehicle Accident Prevention
- What You Should & Should not Do when Checking References
- Youth Supervision Guidelines
- Emergency Response Team Roles