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Here you will find a guide to your responsibilities for looking after people who visit your church premises and ensuring that they are kept safe.

Do we need a Health and Safety policy?

Yes, you need an up-to-date Health and Safety policy to help fulfil your duty of care to your church members, volunteers and visitors. When setting up your policy you need to undertake regular risk assessments to assess the types of risks and the likelihood of them occurring.

  • Make sure you have an accident book

  • Health and Safety should be on the agenda at your PCC meetings

  • Update your policy and risk assessments regularly

  • Monitor your Health and Safety procedures to take account of changing circumstances.

This should be a continuing process but we recommend you go through a risk assessment and take any action necessary at least annually. Find out more .

Main Health and Safety issues

  • Slips and trips


    Many accidents can be prevented by implementing the following:

    • Fixing down the edges of carpets, rugs and doormats or using an edge strip

    • Sweeping up leaves and removing snow and ice on footpaths

    • Displaying warning signs where appropriate.

    We have produced a handy checklist highlighting some of the most common hazards and suggesting measures to put in place which could reduce or eliminate the risk altogether. Find out more

  • Graveyards and burial grounds


    Regular inspections and risk assessments should be completed to help you ensure the ground is safe or identify areas for repair. You can also reduce the possibility of falls by:

    • Making sure the grass is cut around concealed kerbs and gravestones
    • Displaying signage requesting that visitors keep to the paths.

    Find out more

  • Personal safety


    Some common sense advice for keeping safe in vulnerable situations such as if you are alone in a church or locking up after an event or service:

    • Try not to be in a situation where you are alone in the church
    • Have a personal attack alarm handy and make sure people know what to do if they hear it
    • Ensuring your mobile phone is easily accessible and in good working order.

    Find out more

  • Working at height


    Falling from height is a major cause of fatalities and severe injuries. Churches have a legal duty to provide protection for employees and volunteers under their control.

    The Health and Safety Executive consider it good practice to provide volunteers with the same level of protection as if they were employees. You can do this by introducing some of the following controls:

    • Proper planning and organising of the work taking place

    • Ensuring the person carrying out the work is competent or supervised by a competent person

    • Providing suitable work equipment - ladders should be suitably placed and footed

    Working at height should not be carried out where it is reasonably practicable to complete the work safely another way, only work at height if you have fully assessed the risk.

    Find out more

What is liability insurance?

Liability insurance protects an individual, volunteer or organisation if they are held legally liable for personal injury or damage to property. Your policy includes both Employers’ and Public liability cover.

  • Employers’ liability insurance


    This covers you if your PCC is legally liable to pay damages to an employee or volunteer who is injured whilst working on behalf of the church.

    Much of the work undertaken at your church may be by volunteers; we regard them as employees for the purpose of insurance.

  • Public liability insurance


    This covers you if your PCC is legally liable for injury to a member of the general public or damage to their property.

    For example, if someone is injured whilst in your church or church hall, you may be held liable to pay damages to them, and any associated legal costs.

  • How much cover do we need?


    The PCC is responsible for fixing the limit; however, for Public liability we recommend a minimum of £5m and for Employers’ liability £10m.

  • Do we need to have a Safeguarding policy?


    Any organisation that works with children and/or vulnerable adults must have a Safeguarding policy and undertake Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (previously CRB) on all eligible persons.

    The PCC needs to ensure that it has adopted and applied the recommendations contained in the Church of England policies on Safeguarding. Your Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser will provide further guidance.

  • Is cover provided for incidents of abuse?


    Your Public liability cover will indemnify the PCC if it’s found to be legally liable for a bodily injury or illness to a person as result of abuse.

    There would be no cover for the perpetrator of an incident of abuse. It is important that you operate within the guidelines of the Church of England; failure to do so may prejudice your insurance in the event of a claim.

  • Is there cover for church workers accused of abuse?


    Your legal expenses insurance provides cover for legal costs associated with defending criminal prosecutions.

    DAS Legal Expenses Insurance manages these claims on our behalf and it is vitally important that they are notified immediately of any such incidents.

Your responsbility for people on church premises guide  
Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.