POLICY & PROCEDURE FOR HEADSTONE TESTING

The risk of injury from a gravestone or other memorial, which has become loose and unstable is very low and there is no requirement to routinely mechanically test memorials.

Burial authorities in England and Wales do have a general duty under the Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977 (LACO) to maintain burial grounds in good order. Different legislation applies in Scotland. Many burial ground operators, if they employ people, will also have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

As a responsible Parish Council, we need to do what is reasonably practicable to ensure that visitors and those working in burial grounds are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. The Council is to ensure that any action taken to manage memorials or other aspects of the burial ground is proportionate to the level of risk and undertaken in a sensitive way.

The following procedure is to be carried out by the Parish Clerk and a member of the Parish Council in accordance with the Directions and Guidance with Regard to Memorial Safety issued the Health & Safety Executive*

  • Maintain a database as close as possible with the year erected, test date, risk level (high/medium/low), and re-test date.
  • Display notices on the Parish Council Website, Facebook page and notice boards 30 days prior to an inspection taking place.
  • Headstones to be tested by hand and any failed ones laid down in accordance with the above published guidelines and a notice displayed on the headstone and the grave owner/family (if known) contacted.

The above procedure should be followed every 12 months.

In addition to the above, the Parish Council issues guidelines to stonemasons and bereaved relatives to ensure all memorials are fitted to a quality specification based on the Namm & Bramm code of working practice and BS8414 and stonemasons are required to issue a certificate of compliance prior to installation of a headstone.

*The link to the HSE document can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/326725/safety-burial-grounds.pdf

This policy was adopted by Council on: 12th October 2020

Next Review Date: October 2023