Cemetery memorial safety programme

Why are memorial safety checks needed?

Tragically, there have been incidents elsewhere in the country where people have been injured or killed by falling memorials in cemeteries. As a result, the Health and Safety Executive requires safety work to be carried out regularly.

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Which cemeteries are affected?

This cycle of testing will see memorials in the following cemeteries being checked:

  • Marston on Dove
  • Findern
  • Etwall (part of)
  • Aston on Trent - Moor Lane (part of)

The safety checks have taken place in our cemeteries, on a regular basis, for 10 years.

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What do the safety tests involve?

  • Each headstone will have a visual inspection to assess its condition.
  • It will then be given a gentle ‘push-test’ to check that the stone is not in any immediate danger of falling. 
  • Finally, where appropriate, memorials may be tested using calibrated force measurement equipment, which accurately measures the force applied. If a memorial cannot accept a pressure of 25kg, the tester will record the pressure it was able to accept. If the stone does not move or show signs of instability during the test, it is passed as safe. 

Guidelines drawn up by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) have been used for this testing purpose. The guidelines require that memorials can accept pressure up to 25kg.

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Who does the checks?

The checks are carried out by a specialist contractor who makes sure that the work is carried out carefully and with due respect. Each memorial tested will be recorded to indicate that the safety check has been carried out. The record will include the date, type and condition of the memorial and any action taken.

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Who is responsible for keeping memorials in a safe condition?

The grave owner or their next of kin are responsible for the memorial and have a duty to keep the memorial repaired and in a safe condition.

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What happens with headstones that fail the test?

Depending on its location in the cemetery, a headstone may be secured using a wooden support and banding and/or marked with a notice. No memorials will be laid down or removed from the grave space. Where possible, we will write to grave owners as soon as possible to inform them where it has been necessary to support a memorial for safety reasons.

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Can I repair the memorial myself?

You should never try to repair the memorial yourself. This could be very dangerous and may result in serious injury to you and/or to members of the public. Only accredited memorial masons can carry out repair work on memorials in our cemeteries. 

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If I have insurance cover on my memorial will the costs of repair be covered?

We recommend that all memorials sited within our cemeteries are insured against all risks. Please check with your monumental mason or insurer to find out if repair work is covered.

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My headstone has a notice placed on it and I haven’t been contacted first. Why?

Our immediate priority is to make sure that all our cemeteries are safe for the public to enter. Headstones that fail the test will have a notice attached to them. We will contact as many grave owners as possible whose memorials have failed the test. If we have not written to you, it may be because we’ve not got up-to-date contact details for you.

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What have we done to inform visitors and owners of memorial testing?

Notices have been placed on the cemetery gates, in the notice board and at locations around the section being tested. A public notice has also appeared in newspapers.

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Will my headstone be subject to further tests in the future?

Yes, we will be carrying out similar tests at regular intervals in the future, at least every five years. Because of this we recommend that your memorial is insured and is regularly and professionally checked and maintained by your memorial mason to ensure it is safe.

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Where can I get further information?

We understand how upsetting it can be for families to see work being carried out on a memorial to a loved one and we want to help people deal with their unsafe memorials as quickly as possible. Anyone who wants to talk about what is happening or needs information can contact us.

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