Health and safety issues
Kirk Sessions are responsible for ensuring a safe church for all members, visitors and the general public.
All workers should be issued with a copy of the Health and Safety policy and fire safety and evacuation procedures. These should also be provided for church building lets and leases.
If the activity is to be run through a person or group registered with Ofsted (Registration requirements - Childminders and childcare providers) or if any congregational employees/volunteers are involved with the activity, then there is a legal requirement to have first aiders present as per The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981.
If the activity is undertaken by a third-party organisation letting or leasing the church building, the legal requirement for a first aider remains their responsibility and this should be reflected in the letting or leasing agreement. However, charity trustees must consider the potential risks of a first aider not being available for church-led activities in the risk assessment undertaken for the activity.
Kirk Sessions may find the following checklist helpful when they review their health and safety policy:
- Who is responsible for ensuring that the physical environment is safe and secure?
- Where are the fire exits and fire appliances and how are they reached?
- Is there easy access to a telephone that works?
- Who is trained in first aid and where is the first-aid box?
- How and when should an incident be recorded in an accident book?
- Who has responsibility for informing the parents of a child who has been injured?
- Do any of the children have medical or intimate care needs?
- Are any areas of the church out of bounds to children or are there places which require a higher level of supervision?
Health and Safety Guidance for Congregations and the Health and Safety Policy Statement is available in the Law Circulars section of the Church of Scotland Law Department's website.
The General Trustees' Health & Safety Toolkit is in the resources section of the Church of Scotland website. The Law Department and the General Trustees' Department can provide further guidance on any aspect of health and safety. Please also refer to the SG20 Safeguarding Risk Assessment Guidance.
Food prepared for participants should be done only through those persons or organisations trained and holding a relevant certificate in Food Hygiene. Specialist advice should be sought from the Food Standards Agency and/or local Environmental Health Department.