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Safeguarding means taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm, particularly sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring, protecting people, especially adults at risk of harm and children, from that harm, and responding appropriately when harm does occur. Further definitions relating to safeguarding are provided in the glossary of terms below.

This definition draws from World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists’ (WFSA) values and principles and shapes our culture. It pays specific attention to preventing and responding to harm from any potential, actual or attempted abuse of power, trust, or vulnerability, especially for sexual purposes.

The WFSA believes that everyone we come into contact with, regardless of age, gender, disability or ethnic origin has an equal right to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation. The WFSA does not tolerate harm, abuse, and exploitation by volunteers, staff or associated personnel.

Equality and diversity are at the heart of WFSA’s values. This policy will not discriminate, either directly or indirectly, on the grounds of the 9 protected characteristics (as cited in the Equality Act 2010): age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation.

The WFSA commits to addressing safeguarding consistently and without exception across WFSA programmes and activities, partners, associated personnel and staff. It requires proactively identifying, preventing and guarding against all risks of harm, exploitation and abuse and having mature, accountable and transparent systems for response, reporting and learning when risks materialise. Those systems are survivor-centred and also protect those accused until proven guilty.

Safeguarding puts beneficiaries and affected persons at the centre of all we do.

We are aware that those in positions of trust and responsibility may abuse their power and exploit or harm others. We seek to take action to deal with any abuse and to challenge any abuse of power, especially by anyone in a position of trust.

Purpose and Aims

The purpose of this policy is to protect people from harm, particularly that caused due to their coming into contact with the WFSA. This includes staff and volunteers and particularly children, at risk adults and beneficiaries of assistance. This includes harm arising from:

  • The conduct of staff or personnel associated with the WFSA
  • The design and implementation of the WFSA’s programmes and activities.

The policy lays out the commitments made by the WFSA, and informs volunteers, staff and associated personnel of their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding. It also provides procedures for dealing with reports of breach of Safeguarding Policy, where the safeguarding violation is:

  • Against volunteers, staff or members of the public,
  • Perpetrated by staff, partners or associated personnel.

This policy does not cover:

  • Sexual harassment in the workplace – this is dealt with under the WFSA’s Anti Bullying and Harassment Policy


This policy applies to:

  • All staff contracted by the WFSA
  • Associated personnel, meaning members of the Board, Council, Committees and other volunteers, trustees, interns, scholars and fellows, agency staff, and anyone from a Member Society, partner organisation or institution that is involved in the WFSA’ work or working on behalf of the WFSA.

Roles and Responsibilities

WFSA responsibilities

The CEO is responsible for ensuring that:

  • All staff and associated personnel have access to, are familiar with, and know their responsibilities within this policy
  • There is a clear Code of Conduct communicated to all staff and associated personnel which details unacceptable conduct
  • There are designated, named Safeguarding Officers with the relevant knowledge and skills and that they have time and resources necessary for them to fulfil these responsibilities to the best of their abilities
  • HR procedures include safeguarding requirements when recruiting, managing and deploying staff and associated personnel
  • All staff and associated personnel receive appropriate training on safeguarding at a level commensurate with their role in the organization. This will ensure all staff and associated personnel have a basic awareness of safeguarding issues including:
    • Being alert to the possibility of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation
    • Sufficient understanding to recognize safeguarding concerns
    • knowing who in the organization to raise concerns with
    • Being competent to take the appropriate immediate or emergency action.
  • All staff, associated personnel and the communities we work with have access to safe, appropriate, accessible means of reporting safeguarding concerns
  • Complaints from external sources such as members of the public, partners and official bodies are accepted
  • Reports of safeguarding concerns are followed up promptly and according to due process outlined in the procedure below
  • All staff and associated personnel reporting concerns or complaints are protected by WFSA’s Whistleblowing Policy
  • There is appropriate support to those who raise safeguarding concerns and survivors of harm caused by staff or associated personnel, regardless of whether a formal internal response is carried out (such as an internal investigation). Decisions regarding support will be in consultation with the survivor.

The policy and procedure is published and available publicly.

WFSA Board

The Board is responsible for ensuring that:

  • The Safeguarding Policy is reviewed on an at least annual basis
  • It seeks and receives appropriate reporting of safeguarding matters affecting the organisation and that this forms part of their risk assurance functions
  • Members are curious of the individual behaviours, organisational culture and implementation
  • of the safeguarding policy
  • There is appropriate support and resources available to staff to implement this policy

Staff and associated personnel responsibilities

We recognise that protecting people from harm is both a corporate and an individual responsibility. All members of staff and associated personnel should be proactive in taking appropriate, proportionate, preventative steps to reduce the risk of, or perception of, harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

All staff and associated personal will:

  • Contribute to creating and maintaining an environment that prevents safeguarding violations and promotes the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy
  • Design and undertake all their activities in a way that protects people from any risk of harm that may arise from their coming into contact with WFSA. This includes the way in which information about individuals in our programmes is gathered and communicated
  • Report any concerns or suspicions regarding safeguarding violations by a WFSA staff member or associated personnel to appropriate person (see procedure below). In doing so the primary consideration should always be the best interests of those at risk of or experiencing harm
  • Maintain confidentiality at all stages of the process when dealing with safeguarding concerns.
  • Ensuring information relating to the concern and subsequent case management is kept secure and shared on a need to know basis only.

Responsibilities when working in partnership

Our partners enable us to achieve our goals. They often have the stronger direct relationship with those at higher risk of harm and have better understanding of the law and practice in their country. Therefore, we respect that in most circumstances our partner should have the primary duty of care to beneficiaries of assistance and are best placed to lead investigation of any safeguarding concern. We will always reserve the right to take independent action if we consider that the safeguarding lead organisation is not responding adequately

The CEO is responsible for ensuring that in a joint initiative:

  • a written agreement has been made which clarifies who is the safeguarding lead organisation and which procedures will be followed. Where possible this should be included in the relevant Memorandum of Understanding/Project Framework Agreement or similar document.
  • The partner confirms that they feel confident that they have adequate safeguarding arrangements compliant with national laws, their context and risks they manage
  • The partner(s) is required to inform WFSA of any safeguarding incident in any WFSA supported project or initiative. On the occasions where WFSA is the safeguarding lead, seek to accept challenge and concern from partners in a positive spirit and prioritise actions in the best interests of those who have experienced or are at risk of harm.

References (related documents)

The Safeguarding Policy must be read in conjunction with:

  • WFSA’s Code of Conduct
  • Anti Bullying and Harassment Policy
  • Whistleblower Policy
  • Policies and procedures for staff misconduct
  • WFSA Volunteer Agreement
  • WFSA Partner Agreement
  • WFSA Contract of Employment
  • Any other policy documents, role or job descriptions, grant agreements and contracts specific to certain positions or partnerships.

Where there is any conflict between this policy and its associated procedures and other policies, procures or established ways of working, the priority is always to safeguard people at risk of harm. The WFSA will review this policy and associated documents annually.

Date of Last Review: February 2020
Name of Reviewer: Unanimously approved at Board meeting 26/01/2020