Health & Safety for Churches and Volunteers

A question we get asked a lot is, “We are a church, we don’t employ anybody, do we have to comply with Health & Safety Laws?”.

The short answer is, YES.

The longer answer to this question can be complicated and often cause confusion.

In terms of Health & Safety volunteers are considered employees, this differs greatly from employment taxation legislation. Health and safety law works on a “master and servant” relationship, basically if you tell someone what to do or how to do it you have employed them in the eyes of health and safety law.

This means that volunteers are protected by health and safety legislation.

The Health & Safety at Work Act does impose a duty of care on employers and employees towards those not at work, e.g members of the public, from risks to their health and safety arising out of, or in connection with, the work activities being undertaken.

According to the HSE, health and safety is often wrongly blamed for preventing organisations from running events and people from volunteering.

The Health & Safety Law is not a barrier to volunteering activities it protects those people who give their time and effort freely.

When does the health & safety law apply?

 Health and safety law does apply to individual volunteers as soon as they are “put to work”.

So, what do voluntary organisations need to do?

 If your voluntary organisation is an employer, the HSE have developed a Health & Safety made simple site to take you through the basic steps you need to follow to ensure you comply with the law in relation to your employees.

Is a Risk Assessment required?

Yes, risk assessments are a legal requirement and if you ‘employ’ 5 or more people you must record your findings of the assessment.

What are the legal responsibilities for Village/Community halls?

 Anyone in control of non-domestic premises (such as a village hall) has legal responsibilities under health and safety law to take reasonable measures to ensure the hall, equipment or substances provided and the access to it are safe for people using it.

  • The owner of the hall is likely to have health & safety and fire safety duties for those that use the hall. They should keep the hall in good repair and have appropriate fire precautions in place.
  • The user has a responsibility for managing risks (so far as reasonably practicable)

Safety Advisors are experienced and qualified health and safety consultants.  If you require any help with your health and safety or fire safety, please contact us on 01283 760802.

Our knowledge is your safety

Sources of information:

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment