Safer Places of Worship

General Maintenance

It is important to look after your place of worship and regularly maintain it, so that it is in a good state or repair. A well maintained property is more likely to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Insurance policies do not cover ‘wear and tear’ or damage that happens over a period of time.

You can help lower the risk of damage to your place of worship by undertaking regular checks.

Please click on the tabs below for guidance on areas that require consideration.

During windy conditions trees may fall onto or lash against the building and rocking of the roots can cause collapse of boundary walls.

Leaves and twigs block gutters and underground drains.

Roots removing moisture from clay soils can lead to shrinkage of the clay, causing the foundations to move and the walls to crack.

Branches falling onto visitors, neighbouring property or cars are a frequent source of claims.

Regular inspections of trees, at least every six months should be considered essential and at least every five years by a tree surgeon.

Visual inspections of the external walls and roof coverings should be carried out at frequent intervals to reveal any defects requiring attention at an early stage. Look out particularly for loose or defective pinnacles, parapets, roof crosses, slipped or missing slates and missing lead or lead flashing. Inspections should be made after every period of stormy weather.

Such inspections often require working at height. Consideration should be given as to who is best suited and trained to undertake the activity and what equipment is appropriate to undertake the task. If you feel unable to safely undertake the activity specialist advice should be considered and risk assessments may identify that a health and safety expert or surveyor would be better and safer equipped to undertake the proposed activity.

Experience shows that a properly installed and maintained conductor system provides valuable protection and is strongly recommended for churches on the grounds of both safety for parishioners and staff and preservation of the structure.

Advice should be obtained from a Church Architect to see whether a lightning conductor system is required.

A properly installed and maintained conductor system provides valuable protection for the building as well as being safer for the congregation.

A lightning conductor system which is not in perfect order is a positive danger, because the air terminals will attract lightning without providing a free passage to earth. Regular visual inspection of all the conductor ribbons should be undertaken. Particular cares is needed following building works or after visitors have been allowed on the roof of the tower. Any break in the ribbons should be repaired immediately.

At intervals of not more than five years the whole system should be examined and tested by a competent specialist firm. The method of testing should be in accordance with code of Practise for Earthing BS7430: 1998.

Any water penetrating the walls of the building may cause rotting of timbers and erosion of walls. To avoid such extensive damage, gutters, downpipes and valleys must be cleared at least every six months. Snow and ice should be cleared from valleys and the tower roof during wintry conditions. Ensure that water drains away from the foundations.

This work is likely to be undertaken in difficult weather conditions and at height. Consideration must be given as to the training and equipment that is needed to safely undertaken the activity. Risk assessments may need to be completed and depending on the nature of the task specialist contractors may be better suited to undertake work properly and safely.

Ensure that waste materials, particularly packaging, paper, straw, crates and other waste materials are removed for disposal or recycling. These should not be burnt in the yard or in the boiler nor stored outside and adjacent to the buildings as it could be maliciously or accidentally ignited.

Consideration must also be given to any permits that are required for the disposal of any ‘business waste’ and if you are in doubt it is advisable to contact your local authority for guidance.

It may also be inappropriate or dangerous to dispose of waste that is hazardous through conventional bin collections etc and specialist advice / services may need to be engaged in order to ensure the safe disposal of waste that may be hazardous.