28 September 2018
Responsibilities, planning and frequently asked questions.
From services to concerts to fundraising events, churches are part of the fabric of their local communities. Most of the time, such activities represent little or no additional risk. However, larger events or unusual fundraising activities can present more significant ones. These will need to be properly managed to ensure people remain safe.
Your responsibilities when organising and hosting an event
All entertainment events are subject to the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act and the regulations passed under it. There is a duty of care to ensure the safety of visitors to the church, hall or grounds. In addition:
- Licensing legislation may apply
The church can be involved at the following three levels:
This is the lowest level of involvement in an event where the Church has no control over its organisation and merely benefits from the proceeds raised. For example, an individual holding a coffee morning in their home for the benefit of the church.
Any individuals who organise such an event should check with their household insurers to ensure that their public liability cover would apply should anyone be injured on their premises. Most insurers are likely to accept such an activity if they are notified of it.
Here the Church arranges an event but uses the services of a specialist independent provider to manage all or part of the event. This would normally be the case where the event is of a hazardous nature. For example, fireworks display.
We would expect the Church to use a competent specialist provider in such circumstances and also to check that they have adequate public liability insurance in place.
In this situation, the Church has total control of the event including all activities. This is likely to be the case where the activities are of a non-hazardous nature and normally associated with a church
Managing health and safety at church events
Whatever the event, all that's required is to follow a series of basic tasks. These include focusing on:
- Planning for the event – the level of detail of this should be proportionate to the scale of the event and the degree of risk associated with it
- Planning for incidents and emergencies – so that you can respond promptly in an appropriate manner. Again, this will be dependent upon the level of risk presented by any event
- Managing the event so that it runs safely – here you may need to ensure adequate co-ordination of the activities; provide training for employees and volunteers; monitor the precautions you have put into place and so on.
What am I covered for and when do I need to contact you?
Your insurance automatically covers the Church for any events you organise in your premises or anywhere else. Typical church events like bring and buy sales, bazaars and flower festivals are all covered, but please do tell us if you are holding an event that could be dangerous, such as bouncy castles, inflatables, clay pigeon shoots, rock climbing or abseiling. We can then give you more details about your cover.
Some of our church members can’t make their own way to church so volunteers go and pick them up in their own car. Are they covered?
Anyone using their own car on behalf of your church should check with their motor insurers to find out whether they are covered. The driver of the vehicle will be liable for anything that happens, so we recommend they let their own motor insurer know that they’re offering lifts to and from church.
We are holding an event away from the church. The property owner has asked us to check whether we have public liability insurance. Do we?
Yes, your policy will cover you for any event you hold outside of the church, anywhere in the Republic of Ireland . We can even cover you abroad – call us on 01 619 0300 if you’d like to know more. Before any event we strongly recommend you carry out a risk assessment.
We often hire out the church / the church hall to groups outside the church. Do we need extra insurance?
No, but it’s vital you check that the group hiring the building has its own public liability insurance that covers the event they are holding. If anyone is injured in the church or hall due to your negligence, you’ll be covered by your church policy.
You should make sure that the buildings are well maintained so that they’re safe for people to use. Carry out a risk assessment of the building and the activities that are planned, and if you identify any risks make sure you take steps to minimise them. You should carry out risk assessments regularly so you can be sure they’re up to date. Make sure to write everything down, as this could be used to defend the Church against any claim. You should obtain a specific letter of indemnity from the hirer's insurers
We’re hiring a bouncy castle for our Summer Fete. Are we covered?
Your policy does not automatically cover bouncy castles or inflatables so you need to contact us and advise us about it. We will charge an additional premium for bouncy castles or inflatables. Bouncy castles are fun, but people do get injured on them. Make sure everything is safe by checking our advice. It’s also a good idea to hire a bouncy castle from someone who sets it up and manages it for the whole event. Check the hirer has their own public liability insurance, and ask for full instructions on how to use the equipment safely. Ensure you follow their instructions.
Our bell ringers travel to other churches, and we host visiting bell ringers too. Do we need to arrange special insurance?
Your policy covers your bell ringers in the church and elsewhere, as long as they are acting for the Church. It also covers visiting bell ringers if they are injured while they’re on the premises, and if the injury was due to the negligence of the Church. It won’t cover them if they are responsible for injuring someone else, so it’s worth checking they have their own cover in place.
We are thinking of holding church tower tours to fund raise. Do you have any advice?
The main reason tower tours are potentially very dangerous is that members of the public are being admitted to an area that they would not normally visit and are unfamiliar with. Towers were never designed to accommodate large numbers of people at the same time.
However, where it is decided to allow this on occasions such as Heritage Open Days contact us in advance to check your cover
Will there be an additional premium?
If the event consists of low-risk activities, such as a bake sale, bric-a-brac and fête type stalls, then this would be considered as a normal church activity and therefore no additional premium would need to be charged. There may be occasions where events are of a hazardous nature such as clay pigeon shoots, rock climbing and abseiling.
Where you can confirm that these events are being organised under the full control of a competent specialist provider that has public liability in force, we would not normally charge an additional premium.
Please contact us if you are planning such an event and, most importantly, if you are thinking of organising it without the use of a specialist provider.