The work of volunteers is essential to the successful accomplishment of the mission and ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Performing acts of kindness and service is good for the soul, and much of the church’s impact in the world is brought about by the committed service of dedicated volunteers. There are times, however, when the risk associated with volunteers or employees doing tasks themselves is too great and hiring a professional would be a wise choice. Consider the following example:Your church is considering a bathroom remodel project to upgrade the look and the plumbing. In response, the church board is trying to decide between letting a church member do the work or hiring a professional. Through the risk management lens, the decision process boils down to three reasons why you should consider going with a professional rather than a volunteer:
SafetyPlumbing isn't an easy job, neither is remodeling, and both come with their own risks and hazards, especially for the untrained individual. One of the most common risks is power tool injuries. Many tools of the plumbing trade have become better over the years, but they continue to present unique risks to users, particularly if the product is defective.
Power tool injuries can include broken bones, fractures, and more. Nonetheless, the good news is that trained plumbers attend vocational school to learn the trade and how to utilize the tools the job requires. Even if a volunteer has some experience, they risk injuring themselves, damaging the facility, and financially impacting the church.
Warranty/InsuranceIf you opt to complete a project using a volunteer and something goes wrong, you are on your own to make repairs at your own expense. However, a licensed plumber typically covers any problems with a warranty. Depending on your local laws and the type of job, the length and coverage of the warranty will vary, but it's a great practice. Most contractors do so as a guarantee of their work because it protects their interests as well as the clients. Additionally, contractors have their own insurance, which helps cover medical expenses and legal fees while defending against a covered event. This is useful because it removes the church from liability related to the remodeling project.
Saving MoneyIf you think you will save money by not hiring a professional, you might be right—on the front end. But have you considered the financial impact it could have if you're not doing due diligence in hiring a professional? In 2019 the average work-related injury cost was more than $40,000, while the cost per death was $1.2 million. Depending on the circumstances, if your volunteer is hurt while working on the renovation, the church may be held liable for their injury. This isn't saving money at all, and that renovated bathroom, or roof, or other project could end up costing much more. Professional contractors are required to carry workers compensation insurance for all their employees. Any injuries on the job will be covered by this insurance and will not be the church’s responsibility.
Steps to Hiring a ProfessionalWith all this in mind, here are a few steps we recommend before your next project:
- Hire local, licensed contractors. Local contractors are easier to contact if problems arise with the work, and they are familiar with building codes in your area.
- Check their past work. Check references about the quality of their workmanship and customer service. Ask about their professional reputation and years of service with the Better Business Bureau.
- Check their insurance and bonding. Make sure they are adequately insured and bonded. Ask for a certificate of insurance, having your church and conference listed as additional insured.
- Get everything in writing. Before work begins, obtain a comprehensive contract outlining a detailed description of the work to be performed and the price of each item. Any guarantees should be clearly stated and written into the contract.
If you are conducting new construction or an addition, please don’t forget to work with your conference risk manager and insurance carrier to have builder’s risk coverage in place for the project.
Reference“Work Injury Cost,” National Safety Council Injury Facts, 2019, https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/costs/work-injury-costs/
Image Credit: Petrik-stock.adobe.com