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#41: How does safety in a church work?

October 9, 2019 | 1 hour 1 minute 13 seconds

Series host Jill James interviews Jordan, a safety pro working with his faith community. Jill takes us through Jordan’s fascinating path to safety professionalism. You’ll learn about the unexpected safety considerations unique to faith-based congregations. There’s something new here for all listeners.

Transcript

Jill:

This is The Accidental Safety Pro, brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health and Safety Institute. This is episode number 41. My name is Jill James, Vivid's Chief Safety Officer, and today I'm joined by Jordan, who is a safety professional for the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. Welcome to the show Jordan.

Jordan:

Thanks for having me on Jill. I'm super excited.

Jill:

You know, I am too because you might be a unicorn. Maybe you've never been called a unicorn before, but I have, to date, never known a safety professional who works for and is employed by a faith based organization.

Jordan:

I've been searching around myself and I think you might be on the right path that I may be the lone solider or the unicorn, I'll take that, within the realm.

Jill:

So for anyone who's just listening right now and you're like, "No wait, I am too," or, "I know somebody in my sphere of safety and health professionals," please let us know because literally Jordan could use some friends I think in this work.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

So Jordan before we get to the part of how you came to work for a faith based organization, tell us your story like everybody does. How did you accidentally find yourself in safety and how long have you been at it?

Jordan:

Yeah. It really started when I journeyed up to Kentucky for college. I got a full ride scholarship to play football at Eastern Kentucky University.

Jill:

Congratulations.

Jordan:

Yes, huge blessing. And so at that time I just wanted to be a firefighter. My dad was one when I was growing up and he was also within the construction industry. So I was torn between those two fields, but I stuck with fire protection. And that's actually what I got my undergrad degree in. In fire science.

Jill:

Oh interesting.

Jordan:

It was. Gosh it was a great program. But there was one professor on the occupational safety side, he taught workers comp. And he was always on to me about, "Just come to the dark side of safety. I promise you'll love it. Just take one class." And so that's really kind of how it started. From getting into that safety mindset, I guess you could say.

Jill:

So what was the dark side? The work comp side or just all of workplace safety?

Jordan:

That's what I was wondering. You know. I guess at that time he might have thought safety had a bad name which I don't understand, but I don't think there was a dark side. I think it was a perfect fit for me. And so that's kind of how it started and that's what I ended up getting my masters in was occupational safety and health from Eastern Kentucky. And luckily enough I got an internship at that time. I was just never exposed to those foundational elements that you get in your undergrad of the safety program. So a lot of that stuff was just totally new to me when I first started that initial internship.

Jill:

So where was the internship?

Jordan:

My first one was actually at the Blue Grass Army Depot there in Kentucky. It was a government DOD where they housed a lot of the old chemical weapons if I remember correctly. And at that time my main role was just to review their shelter in place process and make sure the communication was working and everybody had the necessary tools and materials to do that. And I said lord, if this is what safety is, please take me away. Because I was a guy that just loved to be outside and interacting with the actual workers and understanding what are you doing and how can I help? And so being stuck inside the office every day was really tough. But luckily I had another internship coming up and that was with Marathon and that's when I got in the oil and gas industry.

Jill:

Wow, so you jumped right into the oil and gas industry?

Jordan:

By far. It was exciting, high hazard, and I was always out and about interacting with the operators or contractors that were at our downstream terminals. So that's really where I think I gained a true understand of the safety world and how much it's needed, when I first entered that internship with Marathon.

Jill:

And so at that time did you kind of lean into that fire science degree that you have as well? If I remember what you said correctly.

Jordan:

You know, not as much as maybe I thought. It was really mostly all industrial hygiene there initially with Marathon. That was my internship. So I got to get out on a lot of the barges within our river terminals and do a lot of the benzene exposure monitoring while they were out there loading and unloading the barges. So that was really interesting to see that process, number one. But just at all different times of the night and day that they had to operate that vessel.

Jill:

And so did they end up extending a job to you after that internship or is that what happened next?

Jordan:

They did. So it worked out well again where they had some internal movement and a field spot opened up. It happened to be in Wisconsin. And being a Florida native, born and raised, I was like oh boy.

Jill:

So you were born and raised in Florida, went to college in Kentucky, and all of a sudden you are in Wisconsin?

Jordan:

Yes indeed. And you talk about a shock with the weather, right?

Jill:

Right. I'm from the midwest. I can only imagine what you were thinking.

Jordan:

Yes. I mean first time seeing snow in Kentucky, in college. And then you really get to experience a winter in Wisconsin. And after about two years I was over that weather. Loved the company and the people but was just over the weather.

Jill:

Sure, sure. So what kind of responsibilities did you have in Wisconsin?

Jordan:

So we were on the downstream side. So we had everything pipelined in and I had about seven downstream locations or terminals that I covered. Those could range from ... And again, they were all above ground storage tanks and we would load up the trucks that would go and deliver that to the gas stations in addition to rail and barge that would do the same.

Jill:

Yeah. So did you kind of stick with some of that IH work or did you start dabbling in some other areas? Did you do any training or what kind of stuff were you doing then?

Jordan:

Yeah, I mean a lot of the work that we had going on was API 653, which is like the tank maintenance and work and repair process. And so that was a lot of the time just because we had a lot of tanks and we had a lot of fuel going in and out. So making sure that integrity wise-

Jill:

Sure. You weren't compromising the environment.

Jordan:

Definitely. And so a lot of the industrial hygiene kind of went away and it really focused on your confined space entry, your elevated work, some excavations and lock out tag out. Those true life critical components that had to be established. Those were the main focus areas at that time.

Jill:

Sure. Makes sense. Makes sense. So what happened on your journey next? How did you decide it was time to leave oil and gas? Or maybe it was Wisconsin.

Jordan:

So I didn't want to is the great part.

Jill:

Okay.

Jordan:

I loved the field. Again, I loved the organization and the culture that they had, but I was homesick. At that time my wife and I, we were talking about starting a family and we wanted to get back to Florida. I actually ended up taking a role as an operator with another oil and gas company down south in Florida. So a huge transition.

Jill:

So you left safety?

Jordan:

I did.

Jill:

Wow.

Jordan:

I did. And you know I guess the thought process behind it was hey, you can get out there and we can see the type of work that they're doing in those certain exposures, but I think it's a totally different view when you're the one actually performing the work and understanding those exposures even greater. Because you're doing it. And I said, well if I can do this for, whatever it may be, six months or a year, then I can take that knowledge and apply it far greater than I would if I didn't take this opportunity.

Jill:

Yeah, wow. So you embedded yourself to learn the industry even more.

Jordan:

Yes. And it was ... Number one, coming from such a large oil and gas company like I came from, and the culture and just the requirement and the expectation of safety, to where I went was just totally different. So number one, that was a learning curve for me is okay, how do I not ruffle too many feathers day one where I see certain things that I know we can be doing much better and the right way? And that kind of leads me to a good example where I'm going to be vulnerable, I guess you could say, and share an experience or an accident that I had and hopefully it'll relate with somebody that's listening or hopefully they can take action now and avoid a later accident.

Jill:

Well please, we welcome the vulnerability and thank you for it. So yes, go on.

Jordan:

So we had a loading rack, so obviously it was a downstream terminal as well, and we had large ocean going vessels that we would offload fuel from. Jet fuel being one of those. And so, within that process we have to change out filters. And so that's downtime at the load rack, that's maybe some loss of revenue, down time, those types of things. And so, there really wasn't a true lock out tag out process in place at that time. And we're isolating the main valves and drained valves. There's a lot of steps that need to be done to remove the filters and put in new filters. And it wanted to be done quick and we didn't have the right equipment or tools and I ended up opening up the wrong valve. Not the drain valve, but the inlet valve going directly to our main tank. And we had a big geyser at that time once I did that. So jet fuel obviously was everywhere. I'm soaked, the other operator is soaked. And luckily it was minimal because we hit the E-stop. But again, the factors of not wanting to just take a few extra seconds, minutes just to make sure the process is right.

Jordan:

And I knew it, but again, the rush and the expectation on that site was hey, this is how we do it and we've got to get it done now. And that played a role, but it was such an eye opening experience to me where I'm like gosh, I knew what to do, but the pressure of getting it done so fast, I didn't do it the right way.

Jill:

Yeah, right. That's such a familiar story among people who have had incidents happen to them. The pressure to perform or to ... Oh this is just a quick job. And as you're describing this, I'm thinking, have you ever heard of Charlie Morecraft or his story?

Jordan:

I haven't.

Jill:

Well, you'll have to search him and you'll find him in one of the podcast episodes as well. He had something very similar to what happened to you, happen to him at a refinery many, many years ago, where he opened a valve that also spilled fluid on him, except there was an ignition source. Yeah. So Jordan I'm just listening to you tell your story and I'm like, this sounds very close to what happened to Charlie. You'll have to look it up.

Jordan:

I just made a note of it.

Jill:

Yeah. Charlie Morecraft. Anyway, so what happened? You have this ignition ... Not an ignition. You have this fuel all over you and your coworker. Did you seek a shower station or what happened next?

Jordan:

Yes. That was the next step. The E-stop and then hey, let's get to drenching. Let's make sure that we're cleaned off. Let's make sure that we don't need any extra analysis to make sure some sort of over exposure is not there.

Jill:

Right. Of course. Because now you have vapor in the air as well.

Jordan:

Definitely.

Jill:

Yeah, okay. Okay. So how has that experience colored how you now do your job?

Jordan:

Yeah. I think it's just made me appreciate, number one, the occupation more and how much good that is done through the safety field. But also, no matter whether I'm looking at a slip, trip, and fall hazard, or some sort or exposure from benzene, to really look at that as the same. Still somebody could get potentially hurt, severely injured, or even maybe die. And I think having that presence always in the back of my mind helps me. Even though it may seem small. If we have water on the floor because we have a linking water fountain in our school, we've had three people slip and fall, why haven't we done anything about this yet? So that same concept can flow really across all industries no matter how small or large that hazard is.

Jill:

I think that's a good lesson and a powerful one. I think often when we talk about safety people think eh, that's not a big deal. Or safety really is only for factories, construction sites, mines. And safety and where human beings work is present regardless of where they are.

Jordan:

Absolutely.

Jill:

You know I think back to the fatalities that I've investigated in my career and three of them were from ladders where people were standing on the second rung.

Jordan:

Wow.

Jill:

And people say, "What? Really? Can that happen?" Yes, it can.

Jordan:

Definitely.

Jill:

One was on the showroom floor of an ATV dealership. You slip wrong, you fall backwards, you hit your head, because you're not using three points of contact on the ladder. And so I think like you were saying that the puddle on the floor, yeah, things can go wrong.

Jordan:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Things can go wrong. Equal hazard to someone working without fall protection on a construction site or doing steel erection, yeah probably.

Jordan:

Right.

Jill:

Right, same thing can happen.

Jordan:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. So keep going with your journey. What's next?

Jordan:

Yeah. So I mean after that, it was time to get out of the operator role, even though I fully enjoyed it. And I actually got into the insurance broker side.

Jill:

Oh, interesting.

Jordan:

It was. It was something that I didn't know was out there for safety professionals. I didn't know that that was an option within the insurance realm. And it worked out well, where I did that for about three years on the broker side. And it was super cool with the variety of industry.

Jill:

Sure. So for people who are listening, who haven't maybe caught some previous episodes where I've talked about the difference between an insurer for a company and a broker, an insurance broker, can you maybe give like a little 101 for our listeners on what the broker side is?

Jordan:

So I'm going to do my best on that side. So again, you're carrier versus your broker. They're more like the managing piece I guess you could say, in addition to your excess coverage. Which is awesome but they also have a lot of resources you may be able to tap into in addition to your carrier that could provide that risk safety support. And so I did listen in to another podcast where you guys talked about tapping into that and how to utilize that, which was very awesome to hear.

Jill:

Yeah. Right. So for people who are listening, know that everyone will have an insurance carrier. Because you're mandated to have insurance. And within that carrier side, the insurance carrier whether it's Workers' Compensation or Property Liability, that kind of thing, most carriers will have people like Jordan and I. Safety and health professionals or industrial hygienists, that you can ask for help. And you're already paying a premium so they can help you. And then the broker side that Jordan's talking about, broker might be kind of like ... I always think of them as the organization that goes out and finds all the insurance lines for the best prices.

Jordan:

There you go.

Jill:

You know for the carriers. And they too have safety and health professionals. So you can ask both. If you happen to have a broker and a carrier, tap your safety and health resources in both realms.

Jordan:

Absolutely. And just ask, ask, ask.

Jill:

Yeah. Good. And so that had to be interesting. You said you got to see the inside of lots of different kinds of work environments.

Jordan:

Yeah. It kind of went from large school districts to small school districts to restaurants. Oh my gosh, I've seen the back of restaurants way too many times than I care to look at. It was just interesting to see just the operational process within a kitchen of a restaurant. If you have never been back in one, and then you're walking in one for the first time, you're like whoa, how are all these people moving so fast and doing so many things and just pushing all this food out? Look at all the exposures that we have.

Jill:

Yeah. From slips to heat and cuts.

Jordan:

Slips. Absolutely. So the restaurants were interesting. But the bulk of it was our school districts that we had within our belt, I guess you could say, where we provided that service of loss control or safety.

Jill:

Sure. Yeah interesting. School districts and restaurants. Yeah. So how long did you do that?

Jordan:

I was doing that for about three years. And actually where I am now, I was a consultant for the Diocese of Orlando. And it worked out really well where I'm at now after I ended up leaving the broker side where they wanted their own in house health and safety professional. And the risk manager reached out and it was perfect. It was a great fit.

Jill:

Yeah so let's back up in case ... Like we've established at the beginning, you may be a unicorn. How'd you find out there was an opening or did they create one for you? How did that work on that side?

Jordan:

So they really created one, I guess you could say. Because instead of outsourcing it, they wanted to just keep everything in house. They had a big push for safety, but also security. And they wanted to make sure that, number one, they had the right person, fit. And it worked out well because I kind of built that lower level reputation or relationship with a lot of the locations. And it just seemed to merge in like we all wanted it to.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So for people who may not be familiar with what a diocese is, because it's a pretty specific term to the Catholic church I think. What makes up a diocese? How big of a geographic area? What kind of structures, buildings, employees? Can you explain that piece?

Jordan:

Yeah, we're smack dab in the middle of central Florida. It's the Diocese of Orlando. And we have about 116 locations, give or take, both school and churches. In addition to that we have some outreach ministries, food banks, and a lot of help organizations, I guess I like to call it, that provide that support to those communities in need.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That sounds-

Jordan:

So wide spread.

Jill:

Yeah, it sounds-

Jordan:

It's wide spread.

Jill:

It sounds big.

Jordan:

It's from west coast to east coast. You know we have nine counties that our locations reside in.

Jill:

Right. And then, do you have more volunteers than you have employees or how does that work out? Because I'm just thinking of a faith based organization is often, a lot of work is done by volunteers.

Jordan:

Yeah. So we have about 3,000 plus employees throughout the diocese and probably 10,000 to 12,000 volunteers.

Jill:

Wow.

Jordan:

So yes. The capacity of a volunteer in the role that they hold within the school or church, that's a big component.

Jill:

Right. Right. Interesting. For people who are listening who have volunteers where they work, because it's not just faith based organizations that have volunteers. And so the question always is like, where do they fall in safety because when it comes to the OSHA laws, they're not really an employee, so are they still covered? And so OSHA looks at if it sounds like an employee and acts like an employee, it's an employee. Like if you're scheduling their work, if you're telling them when to show up, if you're providing them tools and equipment to do the work that they need to do the job, yes, all those things then shift you. And if they're receiving any kind of compensation at all, that might not necessarily be a dollar, right?

Jordan:

Right.

Jill:

That kind of shifts you into looking like an employee under the law. But more than that, why wouldn't you want to take care of the wellbeing of 10,000 to 12,000 people?

Jordan:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Right.

Jordan:

Absolutely. Yeah, it's a big piece. But really, what are they doing is the big piece. That is so hard to gather without really touching every location because everyone operates so differently.

Jill:

Right. So where did you start Jordan, when you took this job? You've got 115 locations. That's a lot of human bodies as well. And we didn't even talk about the students. Because you said you had school. So you've got 10,000 to 12,000 volunteers, plus students in these schools.

Jordan:

Plus students, yes. Yes. Not to mention our religious education programs that fall under our churches that are more times than not larger student than our school is.

Jill:

So you get the job, you're there the first day, you're like, "Where am I going to start, how am I going to start?" What was your first step? Or did you have direction from ... Is it a bishop that you report to?

Jordan:

So the bishop is kind of the head over the diocese and we actually do have a risk manager at our diocese, so that is my direct report, is the risk manager. And she's amazing. I love how she's brought me in. Was just kind of like, "Hey, you know this. I mean this is your baby, so I'm going to give you just an open wheelhouse to say, you do what you think is needed, we'll touch base, bounce ideas off each other, but you have free range to kind of go do your thing."

Jill:

Nice.

Jordan:

Yes. That was a great thing to hear from a boss. I don't call her a boss, but just a leader. You know hey, I trust you, let's get out here and let's make a positive impact.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, so what sort of things have you been working on?

Jordan:

You know the main goal ... And I really learned this from the broker side, your loss analysis, right?

Jill:

Yeah.

Jordan:

Show me where I need to focus my time and more times than not you can gather a lot of data from your loss analysis of your workers comp injuries. And I didn't understand that initially or in the oil and gas industry until I started to have to do that for clients on the broker side. And so I had a good idea of what we needed to do. You know, we had no programs in place, as far as the safety goes.

Jill:

Sounds about expected.

Jordan:

Sure. Not a whole lot of training for our maintenance or facilities staff. Yet alone, some good preventative maintenance that we can be doing just for our buildings and systems. You know because that also falls into safety with the maintenance of it. And so that was really it. I looked at the data and I just started going out to locations and I would walk. Most times we would have a business manager at the church side. Every now and then we'd have an operations manager who kind of oversees that part. And then the principal. And so I would link up with those three to four folks and we would just walk the site. Walk and talk. I wanted to know what they needed, what we were lacking, how can I help? Just anything I could gather to help guide me in a direction to better serve the schools and churches.

Jill:

Sure. And so you were doing a hazard assessment while you were walking the properties and asking questions, learning what they were doing.

Jordan:

Exactly.

Jill:

Sure. Yeah. Just to back up for our listeners, when you mentioned loss analysis, and so that ties back into the insurance piece we were just talking about. So if you're not familiar with that or maybe you are someone who is now suddenly listening to this who belongs to a church council, a church committee, something like that, and you're like, "Wait a minute, I didn't know about all this stuff with safety." You can go to your insurance carrier and actually you should or to your broker, and ask them, one or both, for a loss analysis. And a loss analysis will be something that's going to show you where you've had injuries and illnesses occur in your work environment. Am I getting this right Jordan?

Jordan:

Absolutely.

Jill:

I'm not the insurance person. And then that will help you triage. As Jordan pointed out, that's what he did. You know, looked at the loss analysis. You can go back and request them for a certain number of years and kind of see where some trending is happening. And that might help you triage your efforts. Like at a specific location or an overall theme of injury or illness that might be happening to help you kind of focus your efforts.

Jordan:

Definitely.

Jill:

Yeah. Interesting. So Jordan, another question that I want to ask you ... I might be jumping around, because I ... Well, let's see. I guess when I comes to a faith based organization, can you maybe give our listening audience who might not think about faith based places as having workplace hazards, can you kind of maybe run through a laundry list of kind of the gamut of things you might see or find by way of hazards? You've already pointed out programs that are needed, just like any safety program in any company. You've already pointed out training, preventative, maintenance things. But kind of through your head, can you maybe take us on a little adventure of hazards that people might not expect but exist in those situations?

Jordan:

Oh that's a tough one. You know, but just really thinking about-

Jill:

Do you want to start in a kitchen, because most houses of worship have a kitchen?

Jordan:

Yes they do. And it's kind of interesting that you go there. Being a not for profit, the health department does not walk through our parish kitchens. So if we're serving food to our parishioners and things like that, we don't fall under that realm. And so that's an extra layer that I have to go out and make sure from a food safety standpoint, which was totally new learning. You know, what are we doing? How are we storing the food? Do we have hot mitts when handling those hot items? But also, to make sure that we aren't building or creating certain things within the kitchen. I've seen just warmers, food warmers where we're taking, say an extension cord, and we're making our own heating bulb. Lack of resource. We don't want to spend the extra money because it may not be there for certain things. But those exposures like that within the kitchen. Or making sure that we have the right fire suppression system if we're frying, if we have any gas appliances. Those are big things that sometimes may not even be there based on when the building was built. We have a lot of 60 year old buildings floating around throughout the diocese.

Jill:

Right. Yeah and so someone with your background and knowledge would be able to make a recommendation that if we're going to be doing certainly types of cooking, certain types of frying, as you gave as an example, we would need an industrial kitchen, a fire suppression system to handle that.

Jordan:

Definitely.

Jill:

And that would be a recommendation that you could make to your leadership team to say, this is something you would want to either budget for or we ought not be having the fish fry in the kitchen.

Jordan:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Okay. Okay. Yeah.

Jordan:

In addition to that, but establishing a kitchen manager. Even though it's a volunteer, making sure we're establishing some leader control within that area and just utilizing the food hygiene training and the kitchen manager training that's out there on the internet. So they at least have that foundational knowledge of food safety hygiene.

Jill:

What a good idea.

Jordan:

Yeah.

Jill:

What a good idea. Rather than if you can't do food safety training for everyone, do it for at least ... Yeah. One person or two people who are there. Yeah.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

Good suggestion. What if we keep going on this adventure in faith based organizations. What about life safety stuff? Do you want to talk about some of those things?

Jordan:

Yes. That's really going to be a big piece in a lot of our churches, but also in a lot of our halls. Which is really just a big gathering space, an open room that they can host events. So based on when those buildings were built, a lot of times fire detection, fire suppression, and your panic hardware is just not there. Because it just, number one, may not have been required at that time and we haven't done any updates to justify having to redo everything.

Jill:

Sure. So you've said a couple of terms that if someone who's a novice is listening, may not be familiar with. And so panic hardware, do you want to explain it?

Jordan:

Sure. So like you're emergency egress. Just having that one fluid motion where we can exit the building freely to the exterior.

Jill:

Sure. So the door would have that bar across so that in the event of it's smokey and you can't see, you need to get people out, you're not having to fiddle with a door or God forbid a lock.

Jordan:

Exactly.

Jill:

To be able to get people out. And so if some of the talent that someone in your position could bring to an institution like that would be looking for, do we have the right number of exits from these facilities for the occupancy load that we commonly have? And you can also get that from your insurance companies as well. So remember if you're listening from a faith based organization, you can ask your insurance carriers or brokers to help you with that kind of recommendation too.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

Yeah. And the right kind of fire extinguisher or that you have them. Or that they've been inspected.

Jordan:

Yes. And they're being serviced.

Jill:

Yeah.

Jordan:

Yes, absolutely.

Jill:

Right. So we talked about food safety, we talked about life safety. What are some other things that are kind of bubbling to the top of your mind, just so we can kind of teach people a little bit?

Jordan:

Yeah I mean, even just your basic lock out tag out or your energy isolation. Because we do have a lot of, just your simple outlet changes that are being done on site by our maintenance folks. And making sure that they understand just the basic simple foundation of energy isolation. That was a top priority coming in, was energy isolation, elevated work, and hazcom. Just because those were like top three that I really saw the largest exposure. And of course and granted, you have your slip, trips, and falls, which is our leading cause. But those high risk based on severity and the work that I had an idea was being done out there. So the more relationship that you build, the more information that you gather from the team. And, those were the areas where we needed to focus on.

Jill:

So you said elevated work, which makes ... If you're a listener you're thinking, how would that apply? Well sanctuaries usually have high ceilings. Sometimes light bulbs need to be changed or decorations are changed out through a particular season and then people are climbing on we wonder what to get to those places?

Jordan:

Absolutely. So tell me again how you got over to that light?

Jill:

How did you get that banner up there?

Jordan:

That's usually how it goes.

Jill:

Yeah and so someone in your position can recommend a safe way to be able to do that.

Jordan:

Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. Jordan it would be remiss if I didn't ask you a question about workplace violence and preparing for or preventing an active assailant, an active shooter because as we all know, unless you've been living under a rock, we know this has touched faith based organizations across our country.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

And so can you talk about how you all are tackling that within your diocese?

Jordan:

Yes, yeah. It's a big push. For about the last year and a half we've really dialed in and really have been making a lot of great improvements within this area. But, we knew we were vulnerable, I guess you could say. But we also knew that we had a lot of the big building improvements that we knew that needed to be done. I don't think we fully understand operationally through our religious education and through our schools, what we needed from a security standpoint. And so we actually utilize a third party company, Life Safety Solutions to go out and inspect our co-located locations. So at some of our sites we have a school and a church. And so those are the ones that we tackle first. And what it was, it was just a threat and vulnerability assessment where that company was out there from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. and we wanted to know everything about how they operated that day and the exposures or the vulnerabilities and that assets on site from the building side, where are we at? What do you see from this? And then from that, we got the actions plans back. And that's kind of how it started. That was that first initial phase one. Let's see where we are and then let's go from there.

Jill:

Okay. Okay. So you hired a consulting company to do an assessment and then that helped you to develop an action plan.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

And so did the action plan recommendations ... Did that come with recommendations for structural changes and just procedure, policy procedure kind of things? Is it both?

Jordan:

Both, which was nice.

Jill:

Okay.

Jordan:

And so from like a hardware standpoint ... And just to give you an idea, it could range from door hardware, making sure that we have the classroom function style handle as we enter the room, so it remains locked all the time from the exterior, with free access or free egress from the interior. That way we take out the guessing game or having to lock it or use a key to lock it. It's way too much in the event of panic to remember to do that. So that's one good example. Just creating certain layers around our sites was the big thing. We want to just make it more difficult to ... Whether we have an exterior fence around our site, but also as you know within most faith based organizations, we like to keep it welcoming, we like to keep it open, and just come and go as you please. So that's a fine line to start incorporating certain site improvements from the physical side but also on the operational side. You know, how do you navigate that with the priest on site and having that buy in from the community?

Jill:

Yeah. To continue being welcoming.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

Right, exactly. Just for an example, what would be some of those physical site improvements? You mentioned creating layers, like a fence.

Jordan:

Yes. So you have your exterior fence. The big thing for us was, where are we having everybody enter into the school office or the parish office? Is that our single point of entry where we can verify and confirm that, yes that person should be allowed on our site? So that's a big improvement where you can hold and verify that person from outside of that front door with a video intercom. And then we have a buzzer system on that front door, where then we can allow them in. And then ideally, you have an extra holding area I guess you can call it, or a box. To where now they're contained within that area until we have the proper credentials to truly confirm that they have a need here on site.

Jill:

Sure. That makes a lot of sense in your schools.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

It makes a lot of sense for day to day operations within the church offices. But what about those worship days?

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

Yeah.

Jordan:

Wednesday's, every day, Sundays are the big days. And kind of what we did from the mass standpoint, was we slowly started to incorporate locking all of our side doors at the main church once mass began. And only having our front main entrance doors that were unlocked. And within that, we may only have one of those doors unlocked. So that way we have a secure site and we also incorporate ... And I may be jumping a little ahead. But our ushers or ministers of hospitality, now that I have the correct terminology, they would be roaming around the church. And that's a big piece to be noticed, to be saying, hey I'm here for help, I'm here for assistance. And they just had a presence. Roaming ushers, whether it be in the parking lot, whether it be at the main entrance and those side doors, just to make sure ... And they have eyes on things that are going on during that time.

Jill:

Yeah. So let's talk about that. What was the expectation for those ushers and have you done specific training on that? I've talked to some church organizations who have armed their ushers.

Jordan:

Don't say it.

Jill:

Right. This is likely a controversial topic because there are people who are going to say, yes that's absolutely the right thing to do, and there are people who are going to say, no, line crossed.

Jordan:

Sure.

Jill:

And so, let's just assume your ushers are unarmed or you're ... What did you call them? You have a different name for an usher?

Jordan:

Ministers of hospitality.

Jill:

Yes. And so, to have eyes on the building.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

Makes sense. What kind of training did you give them and what are they supposed to do if something doesn't feel or look right?

Jordan:

Sure. Yeah so we incorporate a lot of things. Deescalation training.

Jill:

Oh yeah.

Jordan:

Just like your crowd management. What are we supposed to do if a guy or a gal walks in on opioids or on some sort of substance and is acting irate? What's the protocol? Or if we have some irate parishioners that may be upset for some reason. How do we manage that? So that was a big piece because the ministers of hospitality ... I'm going to say ushers from here on out because it's easier. They want to help and they want to assist and more times than not, they're either a veteran or ex-military. So you mentioned that wanting to carry, that was a piece that we kind of had to put our foot down from a policy standpoint and say hey, if you want to serve in that role as a volunteer then you are not allowed to carry a weapon on site. And I think once they understood that, the reasoning behind it, but also understood their role beyond that, it made sense to them.

Jill:

And so you said you offered them deescalation training.

Jordan:

Deescalation training.

Jill:

That's really good. Yeah, what else?

Jordan:

We did do active assailant training for all of our locations, all of our staff. But also just making sure that they have CPR and AED training was a big piece that we incorporated. And making sure that they know where that equipment is on site. Why is it behind that locked door if you need the AED and nobody knows who has a key? So it doesn't make sense. And those were the things that we kind of saw as we were going out and looking at that.

Jill:

Yeah. What a great idea and role. And so each facility then had their own training.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

And so did you guys do some of that yourselves, or you had some people do some of that for you?

Jordan:

We did utilize Life Safety Solutions to do that for us just based on the size. And we thought it would bring more value from an outside company than from internally.

Jill:

Yeah, right.

Jordan:

So it made sense and it worked well and it was received good. But as we worked through it, it was received even better. You know once we really got to the details of their role and what it looked like and we're creating an usher manual. That kind of outlines their responsibilities from that safety security standpoint. And that guide's going to be very helpful.

Jill:

Yeah. So Jordan, I'm wondering if someone is listening who maybe is part of a council at a church or a committee, any faith based organization, and they're thinking, "I'm a volunteer in this job, I got elected to it, but I know we need to tackle these things," where would you suggest they maybe start with safety in general and of course what we've just been talking about? And any resources you might offer?

Jordan:

Yeah. Really from the safety standpoint as far as accidents within our staff or volunteers, I would even ask, "Hey, do we have some sort of assessment that has either been done or that we can do on a quarterly basis, to go around and just look at our sites and evaluate certain exposures?" If we're looking at the team that we have at the location, number one, what type of work are they doing would be a great start. Just to understand, okay if we're doing this, let's look at that. And maybe we'll see some potential exposures. So really understand that operational piece from that safety aspect where you can go out and do it. As far as any free resources as checklists and things like that, my gosh, I mean you go on the internet and there's all types of housekeeping, slips, trips, and falls, and you can really make that your own and tailor it to your site, which is awesome. You know, that would be a great starting point to say, "Hey, where's our exposures based on the work that we're doing on site, both from operationally but also on the physical side just with our sidewalks?" When's the last time that you've walked outside and really walked around your building and evaluated your walking surfaces?

Jordan:

If your parish or church is anything like ours, based on the community who goes there, that half inch raised up concrete, because of the tree right next to it, most times if we're just shuffling across as we enter the church, we're going to hit it.

Jill:

Right. Yeah.

Jordan:

So from that security standpoint, gosh you know, my brain is just going a thousand miles per hour right now, just because I know all the things that we're having to do and just how much that we're finding out. But I would say number one, standard response protocol. If you don't have a certain plan for any type of emergency, that may be a great start. You know, what do we do in the event of a fire, of an evacuation, or if we have somebody enter on our sites that wants to do harm? What do we do? Do we have a plan? Have we talked about it? So that would be a good bullet point to jot down, would be your emergency procedures. But, maybe being able to identify regularly, who's on site. Whether it be ... We have implemented staff lanyards now. And so both on the school and church side, we understand whether you're a staff member, whether you're a visitor, a volunteer, or contractor. So when you enter on site we now know that you do have a purpose to be there based on you receiving that lanyard and being checked in.

Jill:

And you said-

Jordan:

That just gives you the availability to know hey, who's on my site and what are they doing here from the visitor management?

Jill:

Yeah okay. And so you said it identifies the employee, a contractor, or a visitor. Did I miss one?

Jordan:

And a volunteer.

Jill:

Volunteer. Okay.

Jordan:

Just because for us a visitor and volunteer differ from the standpoint of background and the fingerprint check.

Jill:

Right, right. Understood. Okay. And so if someone who's listening, maybe is in a liturgical role and they're like, "Hmm, I kind of want to broach this subject with not just our physical location, I would like to take it higher up in our organization," how might they have those conversations? What might they start asking for in their larger organization structure? Like you have the diocese and your bishop, what might someone who's a priest, pastor, imam, what might they be asking for to start this up to say hey, we need help?

Jordan:

Yeah. And I think that's it you know. That is a good question, you know, where do you begin? We reached out and utilized a third party company. But again, a lot of faith based organizations may not have the necessity or the funds to go out and do that. Gosh Jill, this is a good one, you know.

Jill:

Right. You know what, Jordan, maybe as we're talking through this, maybe it's the things that you've already pointed out. Maybe it's to ask your larger organization if you report up to a structure, "Hey, are there any resources for us to do a threat assessment? Are there any resources that you know of that we might just not be privy to to do some sort of an assessment to evaluate our exposures or to help us develop an emergency response protocol?"

Jordan:

Right. Right.

Jill:

You know to be able to have those words to ask might be the most powerful piece.

Jordan:

Yeah, that's a great example. But also finding the link and the connection that may get you to that top level leader. I can't say that.

Jill:

Yeah. Level leader.

Jordan:

Top level leader.

Jill:

Right.

Jordan:

Just having that access. So that's something that we had to work through. Just the communication. It's so odd to me how we could have our chancery, which is like our main office of the diocese where I'm housed at. And just like our different departments within each one, and as we're learning this, just the communication or lack thereof and how much more we need to share what's going on within each of those departments. Because they all tie back in together. So finding that link, number one, is a big piece. But man, that communication is so crucial.

Jill:

Right. Right. Jordan when we were speaking, prior to us starting to record, you mentioned a foundation to me, that I think you wanted to talk about.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

Yeah, can you tell our audience about it?

Jordan:

Yeah, so that's really where we took our standard response protocol or our emergency operations plan. It is called, the I Love You Guys Foundation. I want to say it was started back in '06 or '07 maybe. And it's called I Love You Guys because unfortunately it was started out of a student who was held hostage through an active assailant event. And as she was being held she kept texting her mom and dad, "I love you guys, I love you guys, I love you guys." And that's kind of how the foundation was created. And their main goal is to provide the resources to schools and obviously faith based organizations from an emergency response standpoint of, what do we do in this type of emergency? And then after that, how do we reunify or reunification and bring everybody back together?

And so they have tons of information out there on their website where you can grab and make posters with that information. Flip books that talk about those responses of lock out, lock down, evacuation, shelter in place. And we really like them because what we found was, through each of our counties, every school was using different terminology. And so we wanted something basic. We didn't want on the west coast we're using code red level one and on the east coast, we're using lock down level two, whatever it may be. So that plain simple language was just super appealing to us because it was simple, it was easy to apply, and I didn't have to think a whole lot about what I needed to do.

Jill:

Yeah, right. Right. Good. Jordan, were there other resources that you wanted to share that I'm not recalling right now?

Jordan:

Texas Safe Schools. If you type that into your search engine, they should be the first one that pops up. They also have a lot of information out there relating to school security, but also can be applied to that faith based organization. And in addition to that, based on where you live and your county or local sheriff ... I know in our county that they actually will ... We have a faith based organization that meets on a quarterly basis with our county sheriff. And so to have that to share ideas, to see what's going on in the community and in addition to that, they provide a free resource to those faith based organizations where they will come out on site and do a threat assessment and provide you feedback.

Jill:

Oh, that's a good idea.

Jordan:

Yeah, so mean I would tap into your local law enforcement and see if they offer anything like that. And if they don't, maybe just invite them out to your site to do a little walk around and build that relationship so they understand your location.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah I mean that's very common in other industries, to have fire rescue, law enforcement personnel, to be able to do an evaluation of your facility.

Jordan:

Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. For if they ever need to come in for some kind of reason, they kind of know the lay of the land right?

Jordan:

Right.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. Good. Yeah. And you had mentioned the company you worked with before is called Life Safety Solutions. But if someone was looking for the type of work that they do, they might search by threat assessment and vulnerability assessment. Would that be the correct kind of terminology to use?

Jordan:

Yes. Yeah that'd be a good starting point there.

Jill:

Okay, cool. Jordan I so appreciate you being on this podcast.

Jordan:

Well it's been awesome. Obviously I could just talk all day and share so many things.

Jill:

We might have to have you on again.

Jordan:

Yes. But it was great.

Jill:

Yeah. Jordan, I also want to thank you for ... You know we established and joked at the beginning that you're likely a unicorn in your position. Maybe not. Maybe after we do this and publish it we'll find out there's lots of people like you Jordan. You'll have a community you can form, which would be fantastic.

Jordan:

Yes.

Jill:

But I really hammered you with a lot of questions today, and it's always hardest to be the first, right?

Jordan:

Right.

Jill:

And so thanks for letting everybody who's listening stand on your knowledge and your shoulders.

Jordan:

Absolutely. I appreciate you having me on here.

Jill:

Yeah. Thank you so much. And let's see. Should I maybe run down some of the tips, resources wise that Jordan offered up? I Love You Guys, the foundation. The Texas Safe Schools is a place to go. The reminder about tapping into your local law enforcement agency to see if they would be willing to meet with maybe your area faith based organizations to start doing maybe some of those threat assessments and just help you identify hazards. And then don't forget about your insurance companies, your brokerage companies. What am I forgetting Jordan?

Jordan:

I think you hit them and wrapped up pretty good. I'm looking at my list and I can go all day, but you did great.

Jill:

All right. Well Jordan, thank you again, I appreciate it. And thank you all for spending your time listening today. And more importantly, thank you for your contribution. Making sure your workers, including your temporary workers and your volunteers, make it home safe every day. If you'd like to join the conversation about this episode or any of our previous episodes, you can follow our page and join the Accidental Safety Pro community group on Facebook. If you aren't subscribed and want to hear past and future episodes, you can subscribe in iTunes, the Apple podcast app, or any other podcast player you'd like.

You can also find all of the episodes at vividlearningsystems.com/podcast. We'd love it if you could leave a rating and review us on iTunes. It really helps us connect the show with more safety professionals. And of course you can share any episodes with your friends. If you have a suggestion for a guest, including if it's you, please reach out to me at social@vividlearningsystems.com. Special thanks to Will Moss, our podcast producer and until next time, thanks for listening.