Health & safety
Whilst graveyards are not inherently dangerous places, the potential for injury still remains. There is an increasing awareness of the risks posed to members of the public by the presence of unstable gravestones. The Health and Safety Executive is aware of several serious accidents, including fatalities, across the UK due to falling memorials. As a result Local Authorities are undertaking memorial stability testing programmes to identify and make safe dangerous gravestones. Temporary stabilisation of elements may be necessary to prevent collapse of buildings, as well as memorials, within graveyards. Features that have been temporarily supported must become priority items for permanent repair or stabilisation. The design of temporary support should not be detrimental to the site as a whole. Special arrangements exist for sites with statutory protection (get download [40K]):
- Ensure that all cemetery workers, including volunteers, are fully informed about the nature and dangers of the work and have received appropriate training to enable them to undertake the task, including health and safety (get download [747K]).
- If you are a memorial owner make sure that you are aware of your health and safety responsibilities (get download [148K]). If you are concerned about the stability of a gravestone you own contact a memorial mason and inform the graveyard owner or cemetery manager.
- If you are a cemetery manager or owner, make sure that your memorial stability testing programmes integrate guidelines for conservation best practice (get download [1.3MB]).
Further guidance of memorial stability testing programmes and graveyard health and safety can be found on the Institute of Cemetery and Crematoria Management website. A brief background to the issues of memorial stability testing programmes can be found in the 2001 Select Committee Review on Cemeteries in England. Information and guidance for graveyard health and safety beyond the UK has been prepared by Woodlawn Cemetery (Canada) and Chicora Foundation (USA).
Page last updated August 2006