Health and Safety
A desire to safeguard children and young people from harm will mean that we need to be safety conscious. This will begin with the buildings in which the activities take place. Church buildings are not always the safest places for children. Many are old buildings that were constructed before today’s greater awareness of health and safety matters. Even modern church buildings have not always been designed with the best interests of children in mind. Nevertheless, there are ways of protecting all users of the property, but especially children.
Every church should have adopted a Health and Safety policy. Full guidance on adopting a Health and Safety policy can be found in the Baptist Union Corporation guideline C7 Health and Safety and Fire Precautions
The church’s Safeguarding Children Policy and procedures should refer to the Health and Safety policy. Someone should be designated to work in partnership with the church’s named Health and Safety Officer to ensure that the policy is implemented with children in mind.
As an exercise, try going around your church building using ‘the eyes of a child’. Look around the church from their height and see what you notice.
Is it in a safe condition, child sized etc?
Are potentially hazardous tools, cleaning fluids etc stored in a safe, locked place?
Do you have checks on all electrical equipment?
Is the building well lit internally and externally especially around entrance points?
Windows in Doors
If there are no windows in doors, could windows be added so that activities in rooms can be seen by others in the building?
Is there suitable fire fighting equipment over the whole of the premises?
Has a fire risk assessment been carried out?
Do you carry out fire drills?
Do all of the children’s and young people’s workers know how to respond to a fire alarm?
Under the church’s Safeguarding Children Policy every worker should be given clear information about the following:
their individual responsibility to uphold the church’s Health and Safety Policy
how to report incidents and concerns under the church’s Health and Safety Policy
where the First Aid equipment is kept and how accidents should be reported
what procedures should be followed in the event of a fire