St Margaret’s Church,

Crossgate, Durham





Health and Safety Policy




It is one of the roles of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) to ensure that there are established policies and procedures of a practical nature that seek to ensure the safe working of the church, and to protect those who work and visit. The PCC has to ensure that as far as is possible the church operates within the terms of Government legislation and the short handbook that follows sets out the policies of St Margaret’s Church, Crossgate in relation to Health and Safety. The book should be seen as a guide for those who offer their time to work for the church, and also to those who visit. Please take time to read through the contents, paying particular attention to any areas that affect you.


The Church Wardens for the time being will act as the health and safety representative of the PCC, and any questions or concerns should be directed to them.


It is hoped that this document will be of a help to all who have contact with the church, and will help in making the church a safe place in which to visit, worship or work.




Approved by the Parochial Church Council:  November 2019. Signed: …………………………………



To be reviewed annually by the Churchwardens.            Date of next review: …November 2020………



Copies of this document are to be found in the following locations:


1.       Fire


In the event of a fire in church the following procedures have been established: (NB: the ‘Responsible Person in Charge’ is usually the person leading the service, or acting as ‘host’ at a concert or event, or else the person leading an activity that may be taking place on the premises.)

·         To raise the alarm, shout ‘FIRE, FIRE, FIRE’.

·         On the alarm being raised, the Responsible Person in Charge should oversee evacuation of the building, assisted by all Sidespeople/stewards and Churchwardens, as available. Instructions should be given over the PA system, if operational.

·         The premises should be checked for clearance, if time and safety allows. In particular, an officiant or server could check the vestries in passing. The lavatory should also be checked.

·         The fire brigade must be called by dialling '999', using the public phone at the bottom of Crossgate (or a mobile phone). Even if it is thought the fire has been extinguished, the brigade must always be called. The information to the Fire Brigade control is: 'FIRE AT ST MARGARET’S CHURCH, CROSSGATE, DURHAM'. Make sure the operator repeats this back and if possible give a contact phone number, before replacing the receiver.

·         People are to assemble on the grass at the top of the path leading from the north door up to 4 Crossgate. It is important that no one should leave the area until the Responsible Person in Charge has given the go-ahead to do so. No one must go back into church until the fire brigade has given the all clear.

·         If not present at the time, the Churchwardens and/or Rector must be notified of an alarm by the Responsible Person in Charge, as soon as possible after the evacuation has taken place.


Fire exits and escape routes

·    The principal fire exit is the North door (main entrance). This is always open during services and other activities involving more than two or three people.

·    The second exit is the South door. This is always to be unlocked on occasions involving 40 or more people.

·    The vestry door is not normally to be used as a fire exit, but a key is provided for emergency use in the event that all other exits are blocked.  This is located in the key cupboard in the vestry.


Fire extinguishers

·    Fire extinguishers should only be used by those trained to use them

·    Extinguishers are provided in the following locations:

o   Vestry (H­2O) – under worktop, marked by sign

o   North Door (H­2O) – in adjacent cupboard, marked by sign

o   Organ (CO2) – attached to choir stall opposite console

o   Boiler Room (powder)

·    All fire extinguishers tested annually (under contract).


2.       Medical emergencies


In the case of an emergency take the following action:


·         A First Aid kit can be found in the vestry (in the cupboard above the sink marked with a sign). A qualified First Aider, if present, may be sought to assist. In the case of an emergency the patient should be made as comfortable as possible and an emergency phone call made for an ambulance dialling '999'.

·         Ensure the operator is given the correct address 'ST MARGARET’S CHURCH, CROSSGATE DURHAM DH1 4PR’ and give a contact phone number (if possible).

·         Give any relevant details of the patient's condition. Tell the operator if the patient appears to have stopped breathing or if a heart condition is thought to be the cause.

·         If a patient is bleeding, then anyone assisting must wear appropriate protective gloves before attending to the patient. These can be found in the First Aid box.



3.       Youth and Children's activities


The PCC has a Child Protection Policy. A copy of this is located in the church (top drawer, vestry, and on the church notice board) and in the Parish Office, from which copies are available on request.


4.       Lone working


Because of the dangers of falling, injury, illness etc. it is recommended that no one person work alone in the church.


If this is unavoidable then the person concerned should ensure that a 3rd party is aware that they are at the church, and estimated time of return is given. If working in the church alone it is recommended that the main door be kept locked. The external vestry door should be kept locked at all times.


It is recommended that, if possible, a mobile phone is carried at all times by the person working so help can be called if required.


5.       Electrical equipment


Only electrical equipment that has been purchased with the approval the PCC or Standing Committee may be used in church.


If other equipment is to be used then the agreement of a churchwarden must be obtained, and the safety of such equipment to be checked before use. 


It is the responsibility of those organising worship or other activities that makes use of portable electrical equipment, to ensure that these guidelines are followed.


Any equipment not in use must be switched off at the mains.


All electrical equipment, particularly when used in youth or children's activities, must be used under the supervision of a responsible adult.


Electrical machinery/tools may only be brought into church for specific jobs. At all time such equipment must be under the control of the operator with a safe system of use. Such equipment must be disabled from the mains if not in use.


6.       Contractors


Only contractors approved by the Standing Committee or PCC may be employed to work on the church premises, e.g. builders, electricians, plumbers etc.


Before starting work such contractors to have produced a certificate of 3rd party liability insurance, and for this to have been approved.  Where it is considered necessary, a safe system of work should also be required from the contractor.


Where work involving construction/building repairs etc, is contemplated, the contractors are to have submitted a copy of their Health and Safety Policy and if suitable a health and safety work risk assessment for the work contracted.


No work to be carried out when the church is in use, unless this can be done safely, and at no risk to users.


7.       Hazardous materials


The Churchwardens will maintain a list of all hazardous substances used in the church and in Antioch House, these to be displayed in the relevant cupboards..


The only Hazardous substances to be kept on the church premises are “household” cleaning products required for periodic cleaning. Any other hazardous substances are NOT to be brought onto the premises unless by the express written consent of the Rector or a Churchwarden:-


For all hazardous substances, which include substances marked as “Harmful, Irritant, Corrosive, Toxic, Very Toxic, Flammable, Highly Flammable, Extremely Flammable, Explosive, Oxidising or Dangerous for the Environment”, data sheets or product information provided by the manufacturers are used to determine the correct method of use, protective clothing needed, method of storage, and action to take in the event of an accident


Cleaning products, with the exception of washing up liquid, are to be stored in a high cupboard out of reach of children.


Do not mix cleaning products.


Do not store products in unmarked containers.


8.       Working at height


Extending ladders:

·         Permission to use the ladders must be obtained in advance from the Rector or either of the churchwardens. who should satisfy themselves as to the competency of any user .

·         Two people must always be present when the ladders are in use. No one person should attempt to use or move the ladders alone. A second person should be available to offer assistance in manoeuvring the ladders to the point of work.

·         The ladders must only be used on firm, level, and dry ground. One person must always remain at the foot of the ladders to anchor the base. The person using the ladders must always have 3 points of contact with the ladder, generally achieved with one hand and both feet.

·         The extending section of the ladder must not extend beyond 75% of its length, to ensure that sufficient strength remains in the ladder.

·         The work height from the ladder in relation to the person working must not extend above shoulder height. There should never be any work where arms are extended above head height.

·         The ladders, when in use, must form an angle to the ground (between 45° and 60°) so that the weight of the ladders is taken on the wall against which they are leaning and reduces the possibility of the ladders falling back. The stability must always be checked before use.

·         It is recommended that a hard hat always be used by the person using the ladders.  The user's feet must always be dry and not greasy.



·         For all work where it would otherwise be necessary to work at a level above shoulder height a stepladder must be used. (One is available in Antioch House)

·         The ladders should always be fully opened, and the top step made horizontal and locked to the ladder’s frame.  Only use on a flat, dry surface.  Do not stand on the top step as at that height the grab handle is too low in relation to your body.  Always have three points of contact on the ladders, usually two feet and one hand.  Only use with dry shoes.  Do not work at above shoulder height.  In particular never stretch above your head when working.



Church Tower and roofs:

·         No one is to be given access to the tower without the express permission of the Rector or a Churchwarden.

·         Great care is to be taken going in/out of the access door due to its elevated position.


9.       Violence


Although the threat of violence is rare, there are occasions when a leader or worker may be exposed to possible confrontation. Simple precautions should be taken to avoid any such confrontations.

·         The comments about lone working should always be followed, to minimize the risk.

·         In other situations e.g. during a service, any disturbance should be dealt with by the churchwarden or worship leader.

·         The policy is not to exacerbate the confrontation, but ask the person concerned to leave.

·         Physical handling should not be used unless there is a need to respond to a situation.

·         If reason does not prevail then the Police should be called.


10.     Dealing with callers in need of food or other help


The church is, quite rightly, seen as a place where Christian help is available. There are times when people in need of help will call at the church; in particular, requests may be made for money or food.  The following is the church policy, having in mind always the need to respond with Christian love.

·         The Rector is always willing to provide help or assistance to those seeking help, if available.

·         It is not the policy of the church to offer money.  We can offer a drink and some food if that is possible, e.g. during a service

·         A list of useful contacts will be displayed on the noticeboards in the church, the vestry and Antioch House.


11.     Churchyard, garth, etc.


Great care must be exercised by anyone involved in picking up rubbish, gardening, clearing drains, etc in the church precincts, as broken glass and other hazards may be encountered. To help minimize the risk, a pair of stout gloves and a ‘grabber’ are provided in the electrical cupboard in the vestry, for the use of church members.


Evidence of drug misuse has occasionally been found in the past. If a discarded needle or syringe is discovered, it should only be handled with the greatest care: disposable gloves should be worn, and the needle placed in a marked secure box and disposed of according to local authority guidelines. In no circumstances should such material be placed in any wastepaper bin, or the black refuse bins. If any person is injured whilst handling a syringe, guidance must be sought immediately from the local hospital casualty department. The needle or sharp should be taken to the hospital as evidence for the medical staff. If other material is found, e.g. glue sniffing, then any discarded material should be handled using the gloves and grabber and can be discarded into the local authority refuse bins.


In the case of broken glass, great care must be taken when collecting the debris. Such debris must be placed either in a box, or wrapped in sufficient newspaper as to reduce the danger of cuts from the glass, and then disposed of in the black refuse bins.