Health and safety standards vary widely across the globe; all volunteer organisations should have safety procedures in place, as well as noting down simple things such as volunteers’ ID and next of kin.
Any volunteers working with animals – whether captive or wild – should receive full safety briefings from the organisations with information about how to approach the animals – or a safe distance to maintain. Volunteers should not be left alone with any potentially dangerous animals. Please obey all instructions – they are designed to protect you and other volunteers as well as the animals you are there to help.
Safety briefings and instruction sessions should also be available to anyone working in construction or habitat conservation. You may be using tools and equipment you are not familiar with, climbing ladders or carrying heavy loads – you are there to help, but don’t be afraid to decline any work you feel you are not physically able to do, or which may be dangerous. Causing yourself an injury will not in any way benefit the project.
It’s not only your safety that is important – the safety of those you are working with must be taken into consideration. Organisations should require anyone working with children or vulnerable adults to have a DBS (formerly CRB) check or equivalent to ensure that people are not put at risk.