Keeping our volunteers safe 24/7

Like any emergency service we must ensure that our staff and volunteers are acting in the safest ways possible and don’t put themselves in any unnecessary danger. We know that saving lives takes bravery and courage but without you we can’t reduce drowning or save lives and this is why we make such a fuss of how important it is.

We will always continue to improve our safety culture because keeping our staff and volunteers safe is our main priority. New policies and procedures are being developed to continue the important work the RNLI has delivered in this area over the years. We will analyse incidents and trends, carry out investigations and audits to improve and share lessons learned to ensure we are doing all we can to prevent accidents from happening.

You will likely remember our Safety Get On Board work in the last two years?  A new coastal Quality, Safety, Health and Environment team has now been put in place to provide support on a local level. Fundamentally though, having staff members focused on our safety isn’t enough – we need everybody putting safety first and ensuring they’re keeping themselves and their fellow team members safe on a 24/7 basis, just like our lifesaving service.

Volunteer Area SHELL Coordinators and SHELL (Safety, Health and Environment Local Liaison) roles have been developed across Community Lifesaving to enable those who are passionate about safety in their community to help make 24/7 safety possible.

Here’s a few ways that our current SHELL volunteers are making a difference:

Owen Hackett is a firefighter and volunteers at Kinsale Lifeboat Station as a SHELL.  His son is on the crew and his wife tirelessly fundraises for the RNLI. It’s important that Owen knows his family will return home safely and at first this role seemed a bit of an intrusive entrance to the station but now he’s one of the team. He works closely with two area coordinators and has introduced anonymous feedback forms, monthly walkabouts, time out talks and leads the fire drills.

Nicky Hannigan is a Deputy Launch Authority (DLA) at Helvick Head Lifeboat Station. She has also been making things safer for her fellow volunteers. She spotted opportunities to do so by moving the cables that charged the boat and tractor that posed a trip hazard, and by resolving the problem of water coming through into the crew changing room by moving the shower head in the showers. These are small changes that make all the difference for reducing trips and falls.

Anne Smyth is a fundraiser and shop volunteer in Dunmore. Anne has seen her team members become much more safety aware during public events at the station. They have highlighted the edges of steps in yellow and put more signage in where it’s needed for visitors during the annual swim or open days.

We need more people like Owen, Nicky and Anne! So if you’d like to put yourself forward, you can register your interest for either the Volunteer SHELL role or the SHELL Coordinator role.

You can apply whether you are already a volunteer or work for the RNLI or if you’re completely new to the RNLI.