February 25, 2020 / Jack Geissert
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Workplace Health and Safety at Nonprofits: Volunteers Needed

Shortly after I retired, I had time to help my favorite charity, a furniture bank that collects donated used furniture and household goods and provides them to, on average, 55 families in need per week at no charge. Even though I had reinvented my career as a volunteer furniture mover and truck driver, I still saw the world through a professional safety and health lens, so I offered to help the charity improve workplace safety and health for their 900-plus volunteers (aged 14-92) and 4 employees.

I performed an end-to-end workplace safety and health risk assessment and catalogued all operations, and a prioritized listing of recommended actions was provided to the Executive Director and Board. Two years later, the furniture bank is a better and safer operation.

I realized that many other nonprofit organizations would benefit from the advice and guidance of a health and safety professional. I had heard about how attorneys, CPAs, and business executives have organized efforts to provide pro bono services to charities, and expected to find a mechanism somewhere within our community of professional safety and health practitioners and organizations to help professionals like myself give back to their local communities. What I found was that no such system existed for our profession.

I pulled together a small team of fellow professionals to look in more detail at the status of workplace safety and health in the charitable nonprofit sector, and the type of professional services these charities would benefit from. While there are certainly fee-for-service IH and safety consultants, State OSHA Consultation, and insurance company loss prevention services available, we confirmed that there are unmet needs, and that a “pro bono services” system should be introduced and delivered to charities by our profession.

This is why we incorporated Safety For NonProfits, Inc. and are now establishing teams of volunteers from our profession to design and build the S4NP services system. We invite all interested safety and health professionals to help. You can contact me for more information or to volunteer. We are also interested in readers of this blog sharing their experience with nonprofit support, and their knowledge of any other organized effort to deliver services to the nonprofit sector.

S4NP is a start-up that is establishing a system for delivering pro bono professional workplace safety and health services to the charitable nonprofit sector. See the February 2020 issue of The Synergist for more information.

Jack Geissert

Jack Geissert, CIH, is president of Safety For NonProfits, Inc.

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