Safety first

Author: Mr Robert Culyer

Published on: 10 January 2023

As PCC members and therefore trustees we have a responsibility for everyone’s safety. On the Ecclesiastical website there is lots of guidance including guidance on working safely.

These are some of the highlights from their Working at Height Guidance:

Tasks involving working at height are common in many churches and these can pose a risk of serious injury from falls. Thankfully, these are not common in a church, but where they do happen many have resulted in injuries that have been permanently disabling. Usually, these have involved falling from ladders and stepladders, or through fragile materials. Falls can also occur from raised, open edges that are not adequately protected by handrails or other features (for example, balustrades). Sometimes, they can occur during roof work or where temporary work platforms are used (such as scaffolds and mobile access towers).

Legal requirements:

Specific duties relating to the prevention of falls are detailed in the Work at Height Regulations. If you are an employer or have control of this work completed by others, you will need to comply with them. In controlling this work, you will only need to comply with the requirements to the extent of your control. ‘Work at height’ means any work in any place (including a place at or below ground level) from which a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury, and the duties extend to cover access to and from such a place (except by a staircase in a permanent workplace).

Broadly, the regulations require:

  • The organising and planning of such work
  • That persons are competent (or supervised by competent persons)
  • Certain steps to be taken to avoid risk from work at height
  • The correct selection and specification of work equipment
  • The avoidance of risks from fragile surfaces, falling objects and dangerous areas
  • The inspection of certain work equipment and of places of work at height.

Additional requirements might also apply in some circumstances (for example, where work equipment – such as a ladder – is used, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations would also apply). Other duties relating to the prevention of falls are set out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. If you are an employer or have control of premises used as a workplace, you will need to comply with these also. The term ‘workplace’ is very broad and could include a church. Beyond this, you also need to meet your common law duty of care, ensuring that any work at height is completed safely so as not to cause injury to another because you have acted negligently.

As I said at the beginning please do have a look at the whole of the regulations.

The author...

Mr Robert Culyer

Generous Giving Adviser Officer

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