Here’s the latest update by Cytûn’s Policy Officer, Revd Gethin Rhys, with news about risk assesments for our places of worship.
On January 20 the coronavirus regulations in Wales were updated to make it a legal obligation on the ‘person’ (or body) responsible for “regulated premises” (including places of worship, community centres, etc) to undertake a risk assessment prior to allowing public access to the premises for any purpose. Although media reports focussed on the effect on supermarkets, this applies to all “regulated premises”. This has been good practice since spring 2020, and we know that most denominations/networks have produced templates designed for their own churches. But this is the first time that this has become legally obligatory. It should be noted that the wording makes it a requirement to conduct a full risk assessment (covering general health and safety matters as well as those relating to coronavirus specifically) even if the building is open only occasionally (e.g. for funerals) or for much more limited purposes than usual (for example to host a food bank).
Welsh Government has chosen to word the regulations by referring to Health and Safety regulations made in 1999, which have been amended several times since, and then require them to be read as if they were worded differently from the actual wording. So, in order to assist our member churches to update their risk assessment and templates in accordance with the law, we have prepared a guide to what is now mandatory, and it is attached.
We would draw particular attention to four aspects of the regulations:
- Our understanding is that the effect of the regulations is to make conducting a full risk assessment – covering general health and safety risks as well as the coronavirus related issues – mandatory for all “regulated premises”, even for premises where that was not previously the case.
- The regulations require a review of the risk assessment to be made each time the coronavirus regulations are amended or the uses of the premises change (as this would be a significant change in the matters to which it relates) and also when the wider situation regarding the pandemic changes (as this would be reason to suspect that it is no longer valid).
- The regulations require the risk assessment to be in writing when five or more persons are working at the premises. As ‘working’ includes working voluntarily, this would cover nearly all circumstances likely to be relevant to faith communities.
- There are special requirements relating to risk assessment for young people ‘working’ in the premises.
We hope that the attachment – which will also be on Cytûn’s websitehttps://www.cytun.co.uk/hafan/?page_id=2861&lang=en – will be of assistance to you, but please note that it is not legal advice, and professional advice should be sought if there is any doubt about how to apply the regulations in your particular circumstances.
Pob bendith – Blessings