Health and Safety
The responsibility for the safety of persons in a church or churchyard lies with the incumbent and Parochial Church Council. Churches and churchyards - particularly those of a historic nature - can present particular risks to church people and visitors alike, which in extreme cases could lead to injury or even death. PCCs must therefore ensure that they undertake appropriate risk assessments and then eradicate or manage those risks responsibly.
The nature of risks in church buildings and churchyards varies very widely, so there is no simple, standard format for such assessments. PCCs must identify and address the risks relevant to their particular church and churchyard. Issues specific to PCCs are set out in a letter of August 2010 from the Church Buildings Council which is available here.
Useful detailed guidance and documentation relevant to churches and churchyards – including a suggested risk assessment form produced by Chester DAC based on the HSE guidance - is available via the following links:
Church Buildings Council:
Health & Safety Executive:
Risk assessment process
Example risk assessment guidance
Example risk assessment format
Note: HSE does not offer advice specific to churches but their advice on “village halls” covers much relevant ground.
Church health and safety policy
Guidance notes on church health and safety
Suggested risk assessment form (word version)
Suggested risk assessment form (pdf version)
Churchyards and burial grounds
Memorial safety testing