Volunteering Safety, Safeguarding and Insurance

We are often asked how Health and Safety and Insurance requirements apply to volunteering so here’s how it works.

Employer supported volunteers are representing their organisation and deemed to be at work and the employer is responsible for compliance with H&SW legislation.  When on site the charity or community group is responsible for their visitors so someone must clearly define roles and responsibilities for the volunteering activities.  This applies to the range of H&SW disciplines including COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health - paint or white spirit etc), Working at Height (step ladders) and Construction Design and Management (CDM). CDM 2015 legislation applies to any construction work at a commercial or domestic site and includes renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance; it applies to practical volunteering activities.  The bottom line is that the person responsible for organising a volunteering activity must appoint an eligible project designer and contractor to lead the activities and manage compliance with the regulatory requirements.  This can be a suitably experienced employee, or a professional facilitator if working with a partner such as EV CiC.  Someone will also need to carry out a Risk Assessment of the activities and identify control measures to minimise those risks.  EV has partnered with RiskAssessor to make risk assessing simpler, quicker and easier (www.riskassessor.net). 

Safeguarding

Safeguarding requirements apply when working with children or vulnerable adults and is broader than child protection and relates to the action taken to promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults and protect them from harm.  Organisations that work directly with children and vulnerable adults are responsible for writing, implementing and complying with the legislation.  These will not deter nor prevent volunteers and volunteering groups from working with such charities as long as they adhere to the responsible organisation’s policies.  Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (formally CRB) will not be required for individuals or teams taking part on a one day organised volunteering activity.  Longer term volunteers who may work directly with children or a vulnerable adult are likely to require a DBS check.  For more information see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/dbs-check-requests-guidance-for-employers.     

Insurance

Insurance is not a problem until something goes wrong.  A company must have employer’s liability insurance in case it is responsible for an injury or claim from an employee.  It will have third party or public liability insurance in case it is responsible for injury or claim to someone outside it’s organisation. Some will have professional indemnity insurance in case of a claim due to a problem with professional services it delivered.  These policies will cover an employee if the employer is at fault and the employer must check if their cover extends to offsite volunteering activities.  A Charity or community group should also have third party public liability insurance to cover any loss or damage incurred by a volunteer for which the charity was responsible; employer insurance may not cover this. A professional volunteering organisation such as EVCiC that provides a facilitator to manage the activities must have insurance to cover loss or damage to the charity or the client. Finally, volunteers driving to a volunteering site must check that their vehicle insurance covers them to do so.

If you need further information or advice on any of the above then please get in touch.

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