Health and Safety for Churches

Businessman about to slip and fall on a banana skin

Why is Health and Safety Important?

Sometimes Health and Safety is seen as a taboo subject as the importance of it is not seen until there is an accident. It is important to have robust policies and procedures in place as the following details of one of our clients illustrates:

The problem started with a leak in the church roof. The church, a converted warehouse had damp patches on a suspended ceiling. After discussions between the Pastor and the Assistant Pastor, the Assistant Pastor went on the roof to identify the source. The leak was caused by deterioration of plastic around the screw heads holding the roof tiles in place. The Assistant Pastor climbed on the roof again a few weeks later to fix the leak. Whilst up there he stood on a skylight which he had thought to be just another roofing tile, the skylight gave way and he fell through the roof. He had no safety equipment and no risk assessment was performed for the job. He suffered a serious back injury and is now a paraplegic and dependent on a wheelchair.

After 18 months, the church received a claim from the solicitors of the Assistant Pastor. They alleged that the church was negligent in providing a safe system of work, safe work equipment and safe instructions. They also alleged that the church was negligent and in breach of duty to prepare a suitable and sufficient risk assessment under the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. There were also allegations concerning Construction Design and Management regulations. If all of the correct procedures had been undertaken it is unlikely that the Assistant Pastor would have been on the roof. Fortunately the church had appropriate insurances in place and the claim was settled at just over £2,500,000.

In order to safeguard the health and safety of visitors, members, volunteers and employees, your church needs to ensure that they comply with all aspects of Health and Safety legislation. Failure to comply with the relevant legislation can have serious consequences on churches as levies and fines can be imposed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

We are able to assist churches in staying up to speed with all relevant and up to date Health and Safety legislation. Listed below are some aspects of Health and Safety legislation that your church may wish to consider reviewing (this is not a comprehensive list):

  • • PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) – The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • • Electrical wiring and installation check – The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • • Health and Hygiene Certificate – Food Safety Act 1990 (updated 2009) and General Food Regulations 2004
  • • Fire Risk Assessment – The Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005

There are other areas of Health and Safety which are not statutory requirements. However, in the increasingly litigious society we are living in, it is important for churches to protect themselves and ensure they have all the right policies and procedures in place. To help ease the burden of Health and Safety issues we are able to arrange competitive packages from an independent Risk Management Services Company. For further guidance and information, please contact our team on 020 8651 7420.
Please click here for more church health and safety information and to request a quote.

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