As a church, we have a moral and spiritual obligation to take care of our people. Health and safety matters are as much a part of responsible pastoral care as visiting someone in hospital. The duty may be relatively new in legislative terms, but it has always been implicit in a church council’s responsibility for providing pastoral care. It has never really been possible to distance ourselves from health and safety matters because we have always seen it as part of our responsibility to care for the people who are part of the worshipping congregation.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 focuses that pre-existing duty of care more specifically. Under this Act, the officers of a business or undertaking, which includes a church, are now charged with the duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with its duty of ensuring, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its members, workers and others, such as independent contractors or people hiring its premises. The members of a church council are officers under the Act.
The best way to ensure that this happens is for the members of the church council to be aware of their responsibilities under the Act and to put in place appropriate policies to ensure that health and safety is embedded in the culture of their church. This page of the website contains some helpful links to other websites that either discuss health and safety responsibilities or include helpful information for constructing health and safety policies for your congregation.
Interchurch Bureau NZ has sample policies and templates designed for Parishes to download and customise.
The InterChurch Bureau (ICB) has also developed a useful resource for parishes to support compliance with current legislation, and most importantly, ensuring workers, visitors and church people are safe.
The booklet takes you through the health and safety “must haves” for parishes including:
- Health and Safety Statement
- Training and Induction
- Systems for Risk Management
- Health and Safety Policies
- Emergency Management
- Incident Management
- First Aid Requirements
- Contractors and Subcontractors
- H&S Meeting Minutes
- Building Safety Checklist
- Annual H&S Review Plan
View or download the booklet which includes many easy-to-use forms.
WORKSAFE Mahi Haumaru Aotearoa has guidance on all aspects of Health & Safety policies and procedures