Am I “looking at all of the trees and not seeing the forest?”

forest with sunbeams

With the start of summer and school break, you are hitting the peak season for visitors, activities, and programming. It might be easy at this time to overlook a safety or risk management practice and open your center to unwanted risks! In the last issue of this newsletter, we addressed three risks that could impact your center’s reputation along with steps you could take to protect it. If you recall, we covered how to use social media wisely, how to establish policies for volunteers, and how to keep safety top of mind. Using this kind of forward planning risk management approach helps you stay proactive in protecting your nature center. 

Now is a great time to step back and look at the bigger picture. Challenge your staff to answer these questions when they assess intended programs and activities:

  1. What could go wrong during this program or activity?
  2. Has this happened in the past and how often?
  3. What have we done in the past to address the problem? Did it work?
  4. What can we do differently in the future?
  5. What else should we be concerned about?
  6. During an instance like this, what are we doing to protect our visitors from harm?
  7. Should we be doing anything else to lessen our worries?
  8. Who is responsible for implementing these efforts?

By doing this kind of self review, you and your staff can identify any areas that might fall short of your center’s standards. From there it takes little extra effort to turn these discoveries into operating procedures to address your safety concerns. Once you’ve established these procedures: 

  1. Print copies of the new procedures.
  2. Distribute the copies to all staff and volunteers.
  3. Train all staff and volunteers. Ask them to sign a statement saying they have read and understand these procedures.
  4. Inspect all equipment and supplies to ensure everything is in good repair.
  5. Place signs around any critical areas reminding everyone to use proper safety precautions.
Using a blitz risk management approach like this helps you quickly assess the safety of your programs and areas in need of adjustment. This helps minimize risks and maximize protection of all you’ve worked so hard to develop. 

forest with sunbeams
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