So, I am not an advocate of foul language, but there is a four-letter word that many consider “bad” that was never meant to be…OSHA. When you look at the push for improving workplace safety, OSHA came from a desire to see less people killed or horrifically injured on the job…seems legit right? I, for one, am thankful for New Jersey Senator Harrison A. Williams Jr. and Representative William A. Steiger, the key drivers behind The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, also known as the Williams-Steiger Act. Like any piece of legislation, it has morphed over the years in some unfortunate ways; however the fact remains that keeping people safe at work is a good thing.
So as a house of worship, does it apply? – YES.
Here is chapter and verse of the sections that apply to churches and houses of worship:
1975.4(c) Coverage of churches and special policy as to certain church activities
1975.4(c)(1) Churches. Churches or religious organizations, like charitable and non-profit organizations, are considered employers under the Act where they employ one or more persons in secular activities.
1975.4(c)(2) Examples. Some examples of coverage of religious organizations as employers would be: A private hospital owned or operated by a religious organization; a private school or orphanage owned or operated by a religious organization; commercial establishments of religious organizations engaged in producing or selling products such as alcoholic beverages, bakery goods, religious goods, etc.; and administrative, executive, and other office personnel employed by religious organizations.
There is an exception during the performance of religious services, but it is a very specific exception. It is in the latter part of 1975.4(c)(1).
So, what does that mean for you?
First, it means there are some very specific OSHA regulations you should be addressing. Stay tuned for more posts about those.
Secondly, do you value your personal safety and the safe work environments of those around you? Great! Then develop, grow, and encourage a culture of safety in your building. It is not that hard…but it must be intentional. You see that word used a great deal at Cool Solutions Group; what we do is done on purpose and deliberate. Safety is no accident. My second child just recently got her license. She didn’t just walk into the DMV and say, “Hey guys, I want to drive, how about a license?” She went through months of the class work and practical driving experience with us. We were intentional about going over the why and the how. She accepted that if she was going to earn her license, operating a vehicle safely was always required. It is part of the driving culture we created.
The same method is how you create that culture in your organization. You focus on your mission and what you are called to achieve; you also have to recognize that keeping everyone involved safe is a critical part of your mission.
“Keeping everyone involved safe is a critical part of your mission.”
The funny thing about safety…you really cannot force it upon individuals. If establishing rules was all it took to make people responsible, we would have fewer lawyers and insurance agents. Show your team how integral they are to your mission and in turn, you will have a team that sees the value in safely executing the role they have been called to…natural personal safety advocates.
We exist at Cool Solutions Group to help churches tell their story, and ultimately the greatest truth ever shared is the Gospel. If there is a way that we can connect with you to help with developing safety within your culture and mission, contact us. We are here to support you and your mission.
We have developed a FREE Church Facility Evaluator. This simple tool will provide you with a snapshot of some key indicators associated with facility operational costs.