Section 2.10 Risk Communication

This section deals with the question of how to best handle situations in which University of Maine Cooperative Extension staff encounter a specific risk to persons and/or the environment. If you have any questions about specific situations, your program administrator can assist in determining the proper course of action.


UMaine Extension staff have a responsibility to inform clients of actions that could result in potentially hazardous situations. Staff should notify clients of the potential impact their actions have on the safety and well being of others and/or the environment, as well as their legal responsibilities.

As an Extension staff member, if you witness or have knowledge of a potentially hazardous situation, you should take the following steps:

  • Document the efforts you have taken to inform the client regarding the potentially hazardous impact of the action and the related legal responsibilities.
  • Write a letter to the client, informing them of the potential risk involved and steps to be taken.
  • Maintain other documentation related to the situation.
  • Inform other unit colleagues and the program administrator about the situation. Collaboration with colleagues provides for open discussion, which could result in a possible solution or an alternative approach, and a decision about further action, if any, that should be taken.

Immediate action may be required in some potentially high-risk situations, for example those involving major environmental impact or threat to life. Before contacting a regulatory agency, you should contact the program administrator or director to seek further counsel.


The University of Maine has a clear policy relating to violence in the workplace. All employees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the policy and refer others to it if they become aware of violent or potentially violent situations. The policy is available at the UMS Campus Violence web page.