Memorial safety checks

How to contact us

Tel: 01642 774774
E-mail: contactus@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk

Introduction

Do you own a family grave or headstone in any Cemetery within the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland?

Please take a few moments to read this; it is aimed to help you understand why it is necessary for the Council to carry out safety inspections on family memorials to ensure a safe environment in our cemetery to visitors and staff.

Do you know anyone who visits a cemetery or owns a memorial? If you do, please advise them to read this information.

Why are we testing memorials?

Over the past five years there have been several accidents to members of the public in cemeteries across the country, several have been fatal.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) want councils to inspect memorials at least once every five years, making safe those that fail the inspection process.

This affects members of the public who wish to visit friends and relatives buried in the cemetery and those who want to hold funerals during this time.

We appreciate that testing and making safe memorials may cause upset to bereaved families, but our priority has to be the safety of those people visiting cemeteries.

How do we test?

We have employed staff to carry out this survey. The first part of the test is a visual inspection to identify the type of memorial and its condition. The second part of the test involves measuring the stability of the memorial to ensure it is not a danger to the public.

We employ a Risk Assessment scale to record this data, from Low to Very High
  • Very High memorials requiring immediate remedial work to make safe
  • High memorials requiring maintenance work within 6 month
  • Medium/High memorials requiring maintenance work within one year
  • Medium memorials showing evidence of unauthorised installations; kerbs/plants
  • Low/Medium memorials recommended for re-testing within 5 years
  • Low memorials that pass the memorials test, re-test after 5 years
Inspection and remedial works shall be undertaken on a plot-by-plot basis. Each memorial within every cemetery under the Services jurisdiction shall be inspected in accordance with the above classifications. The inspection scheme shall be reviewed on an annual basis.

For any memorial that has been classified between Medium to Very High, we will write to the owners, providing we have up to date records. We will inform them of the safety inspections findings and offer advice.

What do we do if we find a problem?

The Council require one of three options to be undertaken:
  • Secure Foundation
  • Make memorial safe
  • Remove damaged stonework
Who is responsible for the safety of a memorial?

Responsibility in the first instance rests with the purchaser or owner of the memorial, or the stonemason or the person who puts the memorial up. In most instances, memorials are many years old and the purchaser/owner has either moved away or has passed on and no family member is currently maintaining it.

Stonemasons who have erected these memorials may also have moved away or retired. The High Court ruled that where a memorial stonemason had erected a memorial properly it should stand for at least 30 years without repair.

What have we done to make contact with owners?

The records of many owners are extremely old and have not been updated by current relatives/family members, we will use the information we have available to contact relatives to inform them of failed results from any memorial testing. There have been notices posted within the cemetery grounds about the safety inspection process. We encourage all memorial owners or visitors to the graves to update current contact details so that we may keep them informed of future memorial inspections. You can contact the Cemetery Office on (01287) 635426 between the hours of 9.00am until 4.00pm Monday to Friday to update your contact details.

What do you do if you are advised that your memorial is unsafe?

We understand that this may be upsetting for you, and are sorry for any distress it may cause. If your memorial requires work to make it safe you can choose to either:
  1. Employ a BRAMM/NAMM registered memorial mason to reinstate the memorials foundation and/or carry out repair work.
  2. Or you can give permission for the memorial to be removed or embedded by contacting the Cemetery Office on (01287) 635426.
If you choose to have your memorial repaired then please use the documents we will enclose in correspondence, do not attempt to repair or remove memorials yourself. Only approved Memorial Stonemasons, or cemetery staff where appropriate, should carry out this kind of work to make sure safety standards are complied with.

Further details are available from Bereavement services.

What are we doing now?

We are continuing to implement a safety inspection programme of memorials within the eight Council managed cemeteries. The details of memorials that fail this inspection will be published on this website.
We do not underestimate the distress this safety action has caused to many visitors to our cemeteries and we will do all we can to ease the upset.

What do you need to do?

If you are concerned about the safety of your memorial you can check the test results via the Memorial Safety Plot Search.

If you are concerned about your family memorial, or even just for peace of mind, we strongly recommend insurance cover. A Registered Memorial Stonemason will know of a company that offers this.

Keep your contact details up to date with the cemetery office as explained earlier.

Please be aware that cemeteries are potentially dangerous places. Visitors to cemeteries should keep to footpaths, avoid touching any memorials and ensure that children are supervised at all times.
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Assigned review date:
20/07/2015

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