New guidelines from the Health & Safety Executive intended to stop the wholesale staking and toppling of gravestones were expected to have been published on 7 November, but as NSS went to press a week later they were still not available.
The government’s Burials & Cemeteries Advisory Group (BCAG) met at the end of October to consider the sixth draft of the HSE’s proposals suggesting that in most cases a visual inspection of memorials is perfectly adequate.
Afterwards Tim Morris, Chief Executive of the Institute of Cemetery & Crematorium Management (ICCM) said that at the BCAG meeting ICCM had made the point that any guidelines would have to comply with the law as it stands relating to health & safety.
He told NSS: “If the guidance is compliant with health & safety legislation our members can adopt it. But there may be a dilemma there. I would say if the guidance says you shouldn’t lay memorials down or provide support you would be telling burial authorities not to comply with health & safety law.”
The National Association of Memorial Masons hope the new guidelines will stop authorities staking and toppling headstones because they feel the practice adopted by burial authorities all over the country has been harmfull to the stone memorialisation industry in general, even if it has helped raise the status of their members as the experts.
Anton Matthews, a memorial mason whose Stone-Safe company supply what Anton believes is the safest headstone fixing system available and the only one with a 30-year guarantee, says: “You wait until the next death. Someone’s going to be for the high jump.”
More in the next issue of NSS.