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All volunteers working at MDS projects are required to bring and use the following safety equipment:
At times, MDS may provide and request that volunteers use the following additional safety equipment:
Hard hats should be worn while using heavy equipment like chain saws/chippers or if people are on the ground while others are on the roof above them. When using the brush chippers and chainsaws ear protection, eye protection and gloves are very important. Dust masks are important for working in insulation or demolition work.
Physical health and safety
The first, and probably most obvious category we labeled physical. By physical we mean nutritious food, comfortable accommodations, and provisions made to ensure health and safety. There’s not a lot that needs to be said here – it’s mostly common sense stuff.
If there is a typical deficiency at our projects, it might be concerning safety issues. So, as a director, be alert. Become proactive about safety; never take it for granted. When it comes to making your project safe, believe the adage, “Plan your work and work your plan.” An excellent way to be proactive, is to make safety a topic at each weekly group sharing session. Ask volunteers to be alert and to call safety concerns to your attention.
Following is a list of several safety hazards that have a way of creeping onto projects. Have you ever seen these?
• A barefooted volunteer doing cleanup, working near splintered wood and broken glass.
• Not using hard hats, safety goggles, gloves, steel-toed shoes, etc.
Solution: Follow common sense safety rules. Have crew leaders on the alert for infractions.
• Working in the direct, hot sun; risk sunburn, heat exhaustion, dehydration.
• Using harsh chemicals without protective gloves or in unvented work areas.
Solution: Work inside from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Have plenty of drinking water at the work site. Read labels, follow safety warnings. One may even put wet towels around the neck to keep cool.
• Risk serious injury
• Damage equipment (expensive repairs).
Solution: Don’t fool around with this one! A missing finger or damaged eye is too great a price to pay for inadequate planning and supervision!
“Wow, I didn’t realize the electricity (or the gas) was turned on!”
Solution: Always have qualified, responsible volunteers working in potentially hazardous situations.
Added caution: Try to keep horseplay away from the work site. There is a time and place for having fun, but generally, it’s not good to mix work and play.
Here are some additional suggestions to help you keep your project a safe project:
• Set aside time to periodically inspect the facility, vehicles, work sites and power tools. Try to identify potential safety hazards. Be sure to implement corrective measures when you see a problem.
• Make sure work assignments are appropriate for the individual. Remember, age will make a difference in endurance and agility. Also, some volunteers may be fearful of working at heights, etc.
• Prevent back injuries and muscle strains before they happen. Teach construction and warehouse workers how to lift properly.
• Work schedules and breaks should also be age-appropriate. Try to keep workloads realistic. Allow adequate time to complete the job. Remember, haste makes waste.
• Keep the first aid kits and fire extinguishers within easy reach. Make sure all volunteers know where they are located. Make sure the kits are regularly replenished and fire extinguishers are legally serviced.
• Always keep emergency phone numbers and procedures prominently displayed. All volunteers, but particularly construction and crew leaders, should be very familiar with emergency procedures.
• This may be more an environmental issue than a safety issue, but this is an appropriate moment to call it to your attention. MDS projects should always be aware of local environmental issues. Participate in recycling programs. Check with community leaders and learn exact regulations for disposing of construction waste and hazardous materials. (i.e. solvents, unused paint and spent batteries) What does the MDS presence in this community say about our respect for God’s creation?
• Health and Medical Benefits - Any volunteers having health insurance before entering their assignment are encouraged to have it continued during assignment. If requested, MDS national would be willing to encourage the home church or local unit to assist in health insurance premium payments during the time of assignment.
• Loss or Breakage of Personal Tools - Since volunteers are encouraged to bring their own basic personal tools to assignment, MDS will be responsible to repay loss or breakage of these tools. If the tools are basically new, they can be replaced by purchasing new tools. If they are used tools, then replacement should be prorated at an agreed upon rate between the volunteer and the project director.
• Accidents/Thefts - All accidents or thefts must be reported to the Akron office immediately.
NOTE: Project Director should check with local person to see if there are any risks with different spiders, snakes, etc. that people new to the area would not be familiar with.
MDS volunteers are known for repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by disasters. But it takes more than construction skills to serve with MDS. During the time that you serve as a volunteer, you will learn that MDS also restores lives.
Your contribution will help to connect volunteers with disaster survivors who need assistance on their path to recovery. MDS depends on the support of people who believe that disaster response is an important part of helping those who are in need.
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