Church risk assessments
You need to ensure that reasonable precautions are in place at your church to keep it safe for those who use it. To do this, you need to think about what might cause harm to people.
A health and safety policy sets out how you will protect employees, volunteers and visitors who use your church.
A health and safety policy is usually a written document which details your commitment to maintaining a safe environment for all those using your premises. It should also set out the responsibilities and arrangements for achieving this.
Where you are an employer and have five or more employees, you will need one in writing. Here, it must meet certain requirements. Any risk assessments you complete will help inform what needs to be included. The policy will need to be revised periodically and communicated to all employees (and volunteers if you have them).
If you have fewer than five employees, you do not need to do this. However, you should still provide basic health and safety information for them.
If you have no employees at all, you are under no obligation to prepare a policy.
However, you still have a ‘duty of care’ to protect others from danger. In such circumstances where there is an accident and a claim results, you may need to show that you have taken this seriously.
Here, simple evidence briefly outlining how health and safety is managed or the safety checks that you make could help defend a claim. However, this paperwork should not be confused with preparing a written health and safety policy where you are an employer. This documentation is not the same.
Broadly speaking, church health and safety policies should contain:
If you prepare a policy, you should formally minute its adoption at a PCC meeting. You may also want to consider how ‘health and safety’ is reviewed at these meetings over time.
Any policy you prepare needs to reflect your specific circumstances. The length, content and complexity of the document will depend on a range of factors.
For smaller churches, this could be quite a simple document setting out the roles and responsibilities for managing health and safety, as well as highlighting the arrangements you have put in place to prevent danger from common hazards.
To help you we have created a template that you can use or develop further.
For larger or very active churches with significant numbers of employees, volunteers and visitors or where there are many diverse activities – the health and safety policy will need to be more detailed to reflect this.
Of course, simply preparing a policy won’t prevent accidents on its own, but it will help as a starting point in making clear what you intend to do to prevent them.