Departments of the University are often approached by individuals who wish to provide volunteer services. Volunteers make a valuable contribution to the work of many areas at Queen's. In some areas, volunteers are formally recognized and organized into groups such as the Queen's Alumni Association or the Gallery Association in the case of the Art Centre.
However, in many departments volunteers may not be formally recognized or associated with Queen's and may perform duties hazardous in nature. These people, and subsequently the University, may be exposed to liability claims arising from their work unless it can be shown that "reasonable" precautions were taken to prevent injuries.
All persons who perform duties for the University, whether volunteers, students, or employees, are protected by the University's insurance for claims against them or Queen's arising out of the work they perform, providing the work is being performed on our behalf and has been approved by the Department Head. Therefore,it is important that volunteers receive proper formal documentation of their assignments at Queen's in the form of a letter from the Department Head, setting out the terms and conditions, duration and description of the work to be performed. This documentation should be in place before the volunteer arrives in the Department. This formal documentation is particularly important in areas such as laboratories where the volunteers may be exposed to hazardous conditions, and for whom protection under Workers' Compensation is not available as they are not employees of Queen's. The Head should ensure that volunteers are familiar with all regulations and procedures of the University and the department regarding occupational health and safety. Because volunteers are not protected under our Workers' Compensation, the Head should ensure that volunteers are enrolled in a medical insurance plan such as OHIP or similar private medical plans.
As well as protecting the worker, Workers' Compensation also "protects" the employer since a worker who receives compensation payments is not allowed to sue the employer for further compensation or damages. Under certain circumstances, volunteers and visitors who are injured while they are engaged in activities at the University, could bring suit against the University and its staff. The formal documentation need to provide protection to these persons will also minimize any liability claims they might make.
Obviously there will be many people who perform work of a short duration in non-hazardous conditions for whom a formal letter of acknowledgement or special safety instructions are not required.
Departments of the University may be approached by individuals who wish to use the University's facilities, such as labs, but who are not employed by Queen's, are not registered as Queen's students, nor viewed as volunteers as they are not working on behalf of the University. We call these individuals "visitors".
University employees and/or students who undertake activities in labs, for example, which are potentially hazardous, are protected by the University's liability insurance coverage. Visitors however, expose themselves to personal liability for damages which occur due to their activities. The University may also be placed at risk since a damage claim resulting from the activities of a visitor may be directed at the University.
Visitors may not be protected under Workers' Compensation. This means they are able to sue the University and its staff and faculty if they receive injuries while on campus. It is therefore important that persons who fall into the "visitor" category on campus receive the following formal documentation concerning their private work at Queen's:
In consideration of Queen's University at Kingston permitting me to work as a visitor at the (name of department and/or laboratory) ________________________________________________________________________________________
for the purpose of the following activities ________________________________________________________________
and in acknowledgement of the fact that my activities on University property, while being conducted with the consent of the Department Head, __________________________________________________________, are not being performed at the request or on behalf of the University, I, _________________________________________________, hereby release Queen's University, its officers, employees, agents, students and volunteers from any claim or action whatsoever for damages, loss or injury suffered by me or any claim brought against me arising as a result of the said activities unless such damages, loss or injury are due to a negligent act or omission of Queen's University, its officers, employees, agents, students or volunteers.
Dates of Visiting Period:
From _________________________________________ to ________________________________________________
Visitor Signature ______________________________________________________________
Witness Signature ______________________________________________________________