An introduction to health and safety
For most churches, managing health and safety should not be complicated, costly or time consuming. Here are some tips and tools to help you get started.
Such a policy sets out how health and safety will be managed.
In many cases, it is a written document setting out a commitment to ensuring the safety of all those using church premises. This is alongside the arrangements and responsibilities to achieve this.
If you are an employer you will need one. If you have five or more employees, it will need to be in writing. If you have fewer than five employees, you do not need to do this. However, you will still need to provide basic health and safety information for them.
If you are not an employer, then you are under no statutory obligation to prepare a policy. However, you still have a ‘duty of care’ to protect others from danger. If there is an accident, you may need to show that you have taken this seriously. Simple evidence of how you manage health and safety and any related checks you make could help show this. However, this should not be confused with preparing a written health and safety policy where you are an employer. It is not the same.
If you do need to prepare one, any risk assessments you make will help you with what needs to be included in it. You will also need to review it periodically and communicate it to all employees.
On the whole, most churches are small, comparatively low-risk environments with few, if any, employees. We have prepared a template to download that reflects the typical arrangements required and hazards encountered here. You can use this to record or develop further your own document for managing health and safety in these situations. If using the template, you will need to be sure that it accurately reflects your particular circumstances.
Larger churches with a greater number of employees, volunteers and/or visitors will need to include more detail in a policy. This template will give you a starting point, but you will need to check if there is more that you need to do.
If you prepare a policy, you should formally minute its adoption at a Church Council meeting. You may also want to consider how health and safety is reviewed at these meetings over time. It is important to remember that simply preparing a policy on its own won’t prevent accidents. Whilst it shows what you will do to prevent them, taking sensible precautions will be more effective.