Safer Places of Worship


If your church has a balcony or gallery then it is advisable to arrange for it to be risk assessed and compliant with legislation.

This will assist the Church in showing it has taken measures to ensure that the duty of care it owes to its staff and others has been considered.

Some building regulations have recently changed creating a difference in requirements between England and Wales. It is advisable to check with your local planning authority if you are in doubt as to your position. Under building regulations barriers for balconies must stipulate a height of 1.2 metres, however if you have an older balcony then it may be much lower than this. If the barrier on your balcony is below 1 metre this is likely to constitute a potential danger, as for most people this would be below waist height.

As such risk assessments are advisable to establish what measures can be taken to reduce this risk. It may be that a suitable barrier could be installed or an adequate guard rail fitted. The guard rail should be of a height of at least 1 metre (1.2 metre where it crosses steps or other raise sections) and fitted with intermediate spacing bars (if required) which are no more than 250mm between each rail.

If for some reason a heightened barrier cannot be installed because of, for example listed building regulations, measures that mitigate any risk should be considered. These measures are likely to have been considered in your risk assessment and may include measures such as:

  • the front row of the balcony or gallery being restricted for use;
  • children being prevented from entering the balcony area;
  • the balcony being stewarded at all times.

For more information please see: