A few summers ago, I went to a popular, local “swim hole”. I had heard it was really fun, swimming in this huge quarry lake. There were 100 or so people swimming in the cold water that seemingly had no bottom. Others were swinging off ropes from rocky embankments into the water. People were having a great time. I love nature and love swimming so found it really cool in one respect. Though simultaneously my thought was, “Whoa, this is a liability nightmare. Who insures them?”
Makes me sound like I’d be fun at parties, right? I chalk that up to a few summers in high school and college working at a very well-run outdoor summer camp. Clearly, it had an impact!
I joke but the dangers were real. Not too long after I was there a young woman, a competitive swimmer, drowned there. This was tragic and considering her swimming ability, exposed some real vulnerabilities. The right thing to do as a business is to plan before something goes wrong.
Risk management is a timely topic this summer, as many organizations dip their toes into less familiar settings and activities. In many cases summer activities pose a different set of risks compared year-round programs.
What can you do to keep your missions, staff, clients and communities safe? While staying positive about the upsides of your programs, spend time identifying the ‘what ifs’. Next, identify what steps you’re taking to increase the likelihood of success, and reduce the possibility for error, accidents and harm. Finally, ask whether you’re prepared to respond if something does go wrong, from severe weather to violation of policy. (Thanks, Melanie Herman!)
A favorite resource is the The Nonprofit Risk Management Center. They describe themselves as “enabling nonprofit leaders to identify and manage risks that threaten their missions and operations, while empowering them to leverage opportunities and take bold, mission-advancing risks.” Nice, right?
They offer a free resource library with great information on a variety of topics such as workplace safety, youth protection issues, vendor management, insurance and more.
I suggest signing up for their weekly e-newsletter, Risk e-News, as I always find something useful there as it really goes beyond risk issues and discusses good planning and management overall. The tutorial, Accident Response, has some great basic information to help you and your team be prepared.
These will help you get started. Be prepared and be safe, all!