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Olympic volunteer sends out secret messages to the world

February 8th, 2010 · 18 Comments

In defiance of VANOC rules, an Olympic volunteer has decided to set up a blog and post comments about the volunteer experience.

He’s sent me a link to his blog and his first post here, for anyone who is interested in following this kind of thing.

On my training .. my drive to the Olympics and no sleep

I have come to the conclusion that getting trained to be an Olympic volunteer has been truly a unique once in a lifetime experience. As someone who has coordinated volunteers, I came into this process very interested in how VANOC was going to manage 25,000 people. When working with volunteers the first concern often goes to issues of safety. For example, I know that the provision of a safe workplace is one of the first steps one must take. And, with all the collective experience of the Olympics, it goes without saying that VANOC would provide a safe workplace for its “workforce” of volunteers … right?

The Olympic volunteer manual states clearly that “as part of our commitment to a safe work environment we have established certain rules and procedures for everyone to follow to maintain a health and safe workplace for everyone – especially you.” In regards to insurance, such as is mandatory for workers under Workers Compensation Act, the FAQ section of the manual states that “all volunteers are covered under the event that they sustain injury or illness”. Unfortunately we are  volunteers (and not volunteer firefighters), so we don’t get WCB. We were as well not informed in any way and at any time during our volunteer orientation on what our insurance coverage is.

One key component of a safe workplace is the need to be alert and awake, especially if one is responsible for others safety, or if one is operating machinery. So, when i was in my training, and someone asked the question “what is our time commitment as a volunteer”, I was  shocked to hear the response “up to six days a week, 8-10 hours a day”. What was even more interesting was that no one even batted an eye at the time. I immediately started going through my volunteer binder, thinking there is no way that they would WRITE that down now, but yet, there the hours were confirmed in black and white – “A normal volunteer day will be around 8-10 hours, including breaks.” Now as the Olympics is upon us, i can confirm that the other time factor, being how many days a week, is as well true – we are scheduled for 6 days a week, with about 4-5 days off in 30.

I know that many of these volunteers (not me unfortunately) are doing things like driving cars .. to Whistler .. along the sea to sky highway – what is known more affectionately as the  “ski to die” highway. Now, yes, there have been upgrades to this highway, but is the Olympics really trying to say that volunteers who are working 6 days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day, (NOT including transportation to and getting through security on the site), driving Olympians from Vancouver to Whistler, are in a “safe” workplace? Me thinks not!

Anyways, i am reserving judgement on this one. More on how this works out as we move forward.

If you have any stories or things to share please send an email to [email protected].

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