General health and safety overlaps with other sections of this Guidance such as fire safety, food preparation, provisions for disabled persons etc. Churches, apart from the motivation of Christian concern, have a legal duty of care for all who come within and around our chapels.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 with its associated Regulations, and Health and Safety Executive Guidance Notes and Approved Codes of Practice indicates the standard according to which our Government expects us to ‘care for our neighbour.’
To ensure compliance with current standards, risk assessments should be undertaken of the premises, for which written records are desirable but not essential. The risks should be identified, quantified in terms of likelihood of occurrence and seriousness of consequence. Measures should be put in place to eliminate or to reduce and manage the risk. These measures should be ‘as far as is reasonably practicable,’ not technically impossible or grossly disproportionate in time, trouble and cost to the risk. Good, commonsense management is the object of the Government. Assessments should always be open to review.
The HSE link http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsc13.pdf
gives an introduction to the subject and the Baptist Union resource in the link http://www.baptist.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=111326&view=browser
To help to mitigate risk on Health and Safety issues we have drawn up what we think is the simplest possible annual checklist
. We feel this recognises that churches do exercise sound common-sense in these matters and have done so for many years. Completing the list is a simple memory jogger. The checklist can be downloaded here
. We believe completion will also be a reassurance to trustees geographically remote from many chapels for which they are trustees, that the chapel is a safe place in which to worship and that they are being protected from the legal risks associated with trusteeships these days. The Trust is very willing to give advice as enabled and to consider, where needed, helping to pay for any necessary physical changes to the property and any professional fees incurred.