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.

The District Council has a responsibility, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, to ensure that risks within their cemeteries are properly managed.

As a result, the Health and Safety Executive requires regular safety inspections to be carried out to memorials within our cemeteries.

Back to top

Which cemeteries are affected?

This cycle of testing, which is due to begin after 1st August 2022, will see memorials in the following cemeteries being checked:

  • Church Gresley Cemetery (Section 4 only)

The safety checks have taken place in our cemeteries, on a regular basis, for over 17 years.

Back to top

What do the safety tests involve?

  • Each headstone will have a visual inspection to assess its condition.
  • It will then be given a hand test to check that the stone is not in any immediate danger of falling. 
  • Finally, a confirmatory test may be undertaken using a mechanical force measuring device, only if felt necessary, after the results of a hand test are found to be inconclusive and where some movement is felt.  Force will not exceed 25kg at 1.5m or the apex of the memorial, whichever is lower.
  • 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.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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. The laying down of a memorial will only be undertaken in the most serious of cases.  No memorials will be removed from a 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.  Details of memorials that require remedial action will also be posted on our website.

Back to top

Can I repair the memorial myself?

Please do not attempt to repair or remove memorials yourself, they are very heavy and for your own safety, and that of others, only accredited memorial masons should carry out repair work on memorials within our cemeteries. 

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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.  To update your contact details please use this form (pdf, 200kb) 

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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. Full details of the Memorial Safety Policy can be found here (pdf, 576kb).  Anyone who wants to talk about what is happening or requires further information can contact us.

Back to top