Health and Safety Checks of Memorials in Tameside Cemeteries
Headstone Safety Checks
Tameside Bereavement Services staff have completed safety checks of headstones within all cemeteries. This work was ordered by the Health and Safety Executive. The checks have all been completed by trained officers who made sure the work was carried out with due respect. Every headstone was carefully examined and marked to identify any that could present a danger to cemetery visitors. Headstones which could cause serious injury have been carefully laid flat.
In future regular checks will be essential to protect visitor safety. Visitors are asked to take particular care whenever this work is being carried out. Temporary cordons will be used wherever testing is underway. Please do not pass the barriers without speaking to a member of staff.
View our Memorial Safety Policy (0.13MB)
All headstones are owned by and are the responsibility of the Grave Owner or their next of Kin. However, the Council has the obligation of making a memorial safe if it is found to be in an unsafe condition. No headstones will be removed from the grave space.
It is essential that our cemeteries are safe places for people to come and pay their respects. However, to ensure that, we must be responsible and take action to deal with any memorial that poses a threat to the public - we hope people can understand that. People have been hurt, even killed, as a result of dangerous memorials and we cannot let that happen in Tameside.
We appreciate that people may be unhappy about what we are having to do and we apologise, sincerely, if this causes any upset. We understand how difficult it can be for families to see a memorial to a loved one laid flat and we want to help people deal with their unsafe memorials as quickly as possible. Anyone who wants to talk about what is happening or who needs information, can always contact us. We will try to resolve their problem as soon as possible.
Memorial Masons Registration Scheme
It is essential that families do not attempt to move headstones which have been laid down. Tameside MBC operate a Memorial Masons Registration Scheme. This means that only registered stonemasons can fix headstones in Tameside MBC cemeteries.
View a list of Registered Memorial Masons.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often will the checks take place?
Now that all headstones have been checked we plan to check headstones annually.
Who is responsible for the headstones?
All headstones are owned by and are the responsibility of the Grave Owner or their next of Kin. However, the Council has the obligation of making a memorial safe if it is found to be in an unsafe condition. That may mean just lying the memorial down.
Will other cemeteries be affected?
Yes, all cemeteries are being checked.
Who is responsible for the headstones?
All headstones are owned by and are the responsibility of the Grave Owner or their next of Kin. However, the Council has the obligation of making a memorial safe if it is found to be in an unsafe condition.
Will headstones be moved away?
No headstones will be removed from the grave space.
Why is the work being carried out?
The HSE ordered the initial work to be done but expect us to continue regular checks of all headstones. Some headstones could be unsafe and the Council are responsible for the safety of visitors to the Cemeteries.
What does the test involve?
Firstly, a visual check is made to assess the condition of the memorial, secondly, a push test to check that the headstone is not in danger of falling and meets the standards expected of Health and Safety Executives.
What will you do with headstones that fail the test?
Once a headstone has been found to be unsafe, the Council has a 'duty of care' to make sure the hazard is made safe immediately as the Cemetery is open to members of the public. Headstones which are found to be in danger of falling will have a temporary support fitted to it to stabilise it. Where possible, contact will then be made with the family advising them of the need to have the memorial permanently anchored. This support will remain in place for a period of 4 months. After the 4 month period, if no action has been taken by the family, the memorial will be carefully laid down.
What should I do if a Memorial has been temporarily supported or laid flat?
You should not attempt to remove the support or banding or attempt to stand the memorial up. This could cause you serious injury.
You should make a note of the Grave number to give to your Memorial Mason. (If there is no number on the memorial, the name and date of death of someone buried in that grave will suffice)
You should contact a Memorial Mason who is registered and approved to work in Tameside Cemeteries. We suggest you get several quotes as prices charged by masons may differ. View a list of Registered Memorial Masons.
Check if your memorial is covered by any insurance. Your mason will get you to sign a 'Grave Owners Authority form' requesting the memorial to be made safe by the use of an approved ground anchor system.
Inspections on the Borough's cemeteries will be an ongoing programme. Members of the public are being asked to keep to the paths.