ASSP member Jack Geissert, CIH, began his retirement like many OSH professionals who tend to have an altruistic nature: He began volunteering for a local charitable organization that he had supported throughout his career. While moving furniture for a nonprofit organization in the Boston, MA, area that provides household goods to families in need, as an OSH professional, Geissert found himself noticing the organization’s risk, with volunteers experiencing many near-hits and injuries. This led him to work with the organization’s leaders and perform a comprehensive assessment of their operations, eventually helping them make it safer.
“As I did this work, I thought there must be a function within our profession that encouraged and facilitated the kind of volunteer work I was doing,” says Geissert, an emeritus professional member of our Greater Boston Chapter. “I found out that, in fact, there was no such system that systematically promoted this kind of volunteerism by OSH professionals.”
Eventually this led to launching Safety For NonProfits Inc. (S4NP), a startup organization that is establishing a system for delivering pro bono professional workplace safety and health services to the charitable nonprofit sector. The organization strives to connect nonprofit organizations with OSH professionals who can provide safety, health and environmental services.
“There are 1.3 million nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that work for the common good,” Geissert says. “While some large organizations may have formal programs, when it comes down to the work that employees and volunteers at nonprofits do every day, there are too many people being injured, and too many people dying on the job doing volunteer work.”
Geissert says that many nonprofit leaders are well-intentioned, but often they simply do not have experience in how to structure and implement a proactive safety program. Through S4NP, he hopes to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities among nonprofit employees and volunteers. With teams of volunteers from the OSH profession, the organization is working on building a system to deliver professional OSH services to charitable organizations.
Safety professionals who are interested in advancing the group’s work are invited to help develop S4NP’s program plan. Contact Geissert by email to learn more or get involved.