YWAM England discussion document on Health and Safety issues for overseas outreaches

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Health and Safety Overseas.

An Issue for YWAM England?


Every employer has a duty of care to his or her employees. This means that they must ensure that the working environment is safe to work in and that they have adequate cover when it comes to Employers Liability Insurance.

It is the policy of YWAM England to provide and maintain a healthy and safe working environment. YWAM England's health and safety objective is to minimise the number of instances of occupational accidents and illnesses, to ultimately achieve an accident-free workplace.

YWAM England also recognises and accepts it duty to protect the health and safety of all visitors to the organisation including contractors and temporary workers, as well as any members of the public who might be affected by our operations. Operating in this way will ensure both the well being of all those connected to YWAM and YWAM's public image.

Accident Probability

An accident ratio study in 1974 revealed that for every 400 near misses you would get

  • 80 property damage incidents
  • 50 incidents requiring first aid
  • 3 minor injuries (defined by less than three-day absence from work)
  • 1 fatal or serious injury.

What happens though when those involved in our training programmes, summer missions or staff teams go overseas?

YWAM International's Code of Best Practice in the Management and Support of YWAM Personnel states:

We are committed to take all reasonable steps to ensure the security and well being of the people who work with us.

Global Connections, of which YWAM is a member, has a code of best practice that states that: Procedures covering healthcare and insurance, medical contingencies, security and evacuation, stress management and conflict resolution, misconduct, discipline, and grievances, will be established, communicated and implemented as appropriate.

Youth With A Mission England has done much to introduce and implement the values of best practice, policy and procedure through its Short term Outreach Manual and Health and Safety documents. Much of this advice however is scattered, failing to produce a comprehensive and complete resource tool for those responsible for the welfare of staff, students and volunteers whilst overseas. We need to revise our policies to reflect the level of people we send overseas. This document recognises that current material and practices do exist which will be used in producing a more comprehensive guide to Health and Safety overseas.

Thousands of people every year are involved in some kind of accident whilst abroad, either on holiday or on a business trip. The vast majority do not pursue a claim for their injuries because they either think that it is not possible, extremely costly or just do not know how to go about it. That is changing. The use of media by specialist insurance companies has done much to educate people to the fact that injuries sustained in the course of your employed duties, education, volunteer activities, holidays or day to day life may make you entitled to compensation. This compensation is pursued either by Statue Law or/and Common Law.

Claims are either pursued through Statue law or Common Law.
Statue Law: Common Law:
\/ \/
Act of Parliament Based on court precedent
\/ \/
Criminal law Civil law
Crime against the state. Claimant sues defendant
Based on enforcement Civil liability consists of awards for damages (Injury, disease and/or death)
Criminal Liability

Policy v Practice

Youth With A Mission England, through effective management and education, has to prove that it is doing something to address the risk of sending teams overseas. This will include:

  • Identifying hazards and carrying out a risk assessment.
  • Deciding what is suitable and sufficient in operational context.
  • Covering the key working areas and activities for assessment.
  • Prioritising all personnel generally for Health and Safety Protection.
  • Considering operational risks for those not directly employed.
  • Appointing competent people to carry out risk assessment.
  • Recording the results of risk assessment.
  • Developing an organisational approach.
  • Implementing recommendations


This document recognises that current material and practices do exist which will be used in producing a more comprehensive guide to Health and Safety overseas.

Greater cohesion between existing policies and manuals is needed to provide a comprehensive guide to risk assessment in the following programmes.

  • Discipleship Training School
  • Summer programme
  • School of Frontier Missions
  • Year For God
  • Operation Year/Best of Both Worlds
  • Second level training
  • Staff
  • Mission Builders
  • UK initiated projects


Any guide needs to include advice on risk assessment and information on the following areas.

  • Medical, including HIV, immunisations, local infectious diseases, first aid, stress.
  • Travel, to include choosing local drivers and modes of transport.
  • Accommodation, including pre-arrival check.
  • Food
  • Health & Hygiene
  • Security
  • Insurance cover.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Evacuation Policy
  • Check list for risk assessment on location
  • How to empower your team so that they feel free to express concerns.
  • Advice on the need for a will.
  • Social factors affecting a team

The Next Step

The implementation of a more cohesive and workable policy will only happen with ownership.

This ownership needs to be recognised at several levels:

  1. Board of Trustees
  2. National Director
  3. English Leadership Team
  4. National Administrator
  5. Overseas Missionary Leadership team
  6. Director of Training
  7. DTS Director
  8. Local programme directors.

Implementation to Include:

This document recognises that current material and practices do exist which will be used in producing a more comprehensive guide to Health and Safety overseas.

  1. Presentation to ELT
  2. Collaborative meeting between National Administrator, OMLET leader, Training Directors.
  3. Further meetings to happen 2 x year to review and amend.
  4. Local programme directors briefing.
  5. The development of a H&S booklet for staff and students.
  6. The development of a manual/or chapter in existing manual collating current information and adding new aspects. This will include what to communicate, when and to whom. It will also include an assessment mechanism for all aspects of an outreach.
  7. Adding risk assessment to criteria for choosing O/R location
  8. Adding risk assessment to orientation both here and on location
  9. All information to be included on training CD ROM

This document recognises that current material and practices do exist which will be used in producing a more comprehensive guide to Health and Safety overseas.

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