Environmental Health and Safety Management System
Free Geek has a procedural approach to all management functions, including development and oversight of safety policies. Free Geek's safety policies are focused on limiting exposure to toxic chemicals, documenting and educating Free Geek volunteers and staff about safety procedures, and responding to emergencies.
The following describes responsibilities for facility safety procedures as they are implemented by the Action Committee. Moreover, it is the Action Committee that is responsible for setting safety goals for our whole organization and for maintaining and improving health, environmental and safety standards, and meets bi-monthly to discuss the current EHSMS. The Action Committee has line-item in their budget to be able to finance updates on the EHSMS as needed.
The Action Committee monitors safety conditions in the building regularly. They identify and correct problems and prevent recurrence. There are two processes that we use in identifying, documenting and remedying safety issues. The first, and most important, is our online problem ticketing system, where staff and volunteers are encouraged to report safety issues. Second, a rotating team made up of two staff and one volunteer do a monthly facility walk-through, work through a checklist of items that includes changing air filters in our HVAC system, make sure our emergency equipment is up to date and that emergency exits are clear and navigable. They report their progress to the Action Committee so that additional improvements can be made as needed.
The Action Committee serves as the safety oversight working group and follows federal, state and in-house standards. They are responsible for keeping documentation up to date, identifying problem areas in our current production/recycling process, improving working relationships and standards with our vendors and implementing upgrades to our processes. They plan and prepare for emergencies and ensure that staff and volunteers are up-to-date on emergency procedures.
As an example case, the Action Committee works with the Reuse Committee to improve safety conditions in the refurbishment area and ensures that the improvements are lasting. In the past these goals have included the reduction of dust and the placement of first aid kits in appropriate areas. To accommodate larger goals the Action Committee facilitates inter-departmental collaboration on safety issues through our "space usage committee."
If a safety hazard arises that requires immediate attention a staff member will address it and coordinate with the Action Committee as necessary. All staff members are prepared to implement the emergency plan at all times.