14 February 2024
You need to ensure that reasonable precautions are in place at your church properties to keep them safe for those who use them . To do this, you need to think about what might cause harm to people.
You will then need to decide if the precautions already in place are adequate. If they are not, you may need to identify further action to prevent any danger. When done formally, this is known as a risk assessment.
Where you are an employer, you must complete these and they will need to meet specific requirements. In particular, they must identify the steps you need to take to comply with relevant health and safety regulations.
It is worth remembering that even if you are not an employer but own or control premises, you may still have to complete detailed risk assessments for certain hazards, for example, asbestos. These will have to meet specific requirements and in some cases you may need specialist assistance with this.
Completing risk assessments for your church
The level of detail in your risk assessment should be proportionate to the risk.
This means that for most small churches which present few hazards the risk assessment can be quite simple based on informed judgement and reference to appropriate guidance.
A small church is one with a small building, typically set in a rural location, engaged in normal church activities, for example – usual weekend services, a small congregation, and hosting few – if any – fundraising events. Most small churches present few or simple hazards.
A large church is one with a large building or that is very active, with a significant number of employees and visitors or where there are many diverse activities.
Completing risk assessments is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork - it is about identifying sensible precautions for your church.
Of course, completing risk assessments on their own won’t prevent accidents happening. It is important that you take the precautions you have identified as being necessary.