Accessibility Statement
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Safety in...


Churches


General Precautions

  • Regular maintenance is required for all footpaths to ensure they stay clear of obstructions. Make sure handrails and lighting is provided.
  • Steps should be inspected at least annually and defects remedied
  • Check boundaries of churchyards at least two or three times per year, early attention to defects may prevent costly repairs later on.
  • All gravestones and tombs need to be regularly inspected to ensure public safety.
  • Regular inspection of trees, at least every 6 months, is essential as they are a frequent cause of serious damage. Branches may fall onto visitors, roots can damage foundations and during windy weather they may fall onto or lash against buildings.
  • Gutters, down pipes and roof valleys need routine clearance at least every 6 months.
  • Visual inspections of the external walls and roof covering should be carried out at regular intervals to discover defects requiring attention at an early stage.
  • As most accidents in churches arise from slips, trips and falls it is important that floor surfaces are inspected regularly and any defective areas made safe immediately and repairs carried out as quickly as possible.

Churchyard Safety

Trees

Many churchyards contain lots of trees. Diseased or dead trees should be removed as they are far more likely to fall causing damage than healthy trees.

All trees should be inspected annually by a competent person for signs of disease or too close proximity to the church.

Any required pruning or felling should be carried out without delay - experienced competent members of the church can carry out minor work but major works or work at height should be carried out by a professional contractor. Only suitably qualified persons should operate chain saws.

If any trees on neighbouring land are causing concern, letters should be written to landowners requesting appropriate remedial action.

Churchyard maintenance

Garden machinery should be inspected regularly and defects remedied immediately. Safety equipment should be used and the manufacturers instructions should always be followed.

Care needs to be taken when clearing rubbish from around the church. Broken glass and discarded needles may be concealed in long grass.

Anyone involved in churchyard maintenance should be trained in the use of tools and machinery. Persons under 18 should not be using machinery.

Grass cutting

A principal cause for accidents in graveyards is people tripping over kerbs obscured by long grass so it must be kept to a height that the kerb or grace is clearly visible. Regular cutting is therefore essential.

Gravestones and tombs

Over a period of time monuments can become unsafe. Maintenance of gravestones is the responsibility of the family but where the family can no longer be traced, responsibility may rest with the church. Inspections should be carried out at least annually, it need not be carried out by experts. Each stone should be checked physically for loose mountings caused by age or frost, which renders the stone unsafe.

Stones in a dangerous state should be carefully laid on the ground and the family, where appropriate, contacted to advise of the action taken. Repair costs are not the responsibility of the church.

A survey should be done and all stones should be inspected and noted, with a record of any action taken. This would be important in the defence of any legal claim against the church.

Visitors

Paths should be fairly level and free from anything that may cause trips or slips.

Boundary walls should be in a good state of repair. Temporary hazardous areas such as open graves should be roped off and warning signs erected.

Crypts or boiler houses should be locked or fenced off permanently.

Remember you owe a duty of care to trespassers - children may see the churchyard as a great place to play.

The Use of Ladders

A ladder is not a safe working platform, it should only be used as a means of access. Ladders should only be used for minor jobs of short duration.

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