Health & Safety

RISK & MITIGATION TABLE

Persons Considered: Poynton Bell Ringers, Visiting Bell Ringers, Clock Winder, Non-ringing Visitors

Assessment Carried out by: David Friend (Tower Captain)

Date: January 2017

This assessment will be reviewed every 12 months, unless there are major changes to the tower.

There is no public access to the tower. To ascend the tower two keys are required – first for the external door into the base of the tower on the south side, and then for the inner door to the spiral stairs behind the organ. Access to the base of the tower from the main body of the church is blocked by a wooden partition.

 

Bell Chamber Risks

 

Hazard Explanation Mitigation/action
Injury caused by a moving bell – Bells Up situation

 

Bells in the “UP” position are extremely dangerous – if dislodged anyone in the path of the swinging bell would suffer fatal or serious injury.

Normally the bells are “raised “ at the start of a ringing session and then “lowered at the end of the session. Occasionally they are left UP when another ringing session is scheduled within 24 hours.

 

This hazard could happen if an uninformed person entered the Bell chamber when the bells are UP. This is unlikely since the ringers are usually aware if anyone needs to be in the tower during the infrequent times when the bells are left UP.

 

The only persons normally entering the tower are the bell ringers and the clock winder.

 

There are technical circumstances when it may be necessary for ringers to enter the Bell chamber when the bells are up (eg rope breaks and bell sets, or rope slips wheel and the bell sets). The Tower Captain and the Steeple Keeper will know how to deal with these situations safely and will decide exactly how to treat each individual case.

Tower doors (2) locked when ringing is not taking place or clock being wound

 

Restricted number of key holders (Ringers (3), Clock winder, Church Office (2)).

 

Danger notices displayed:

  1. Attached to the ropes in the Ringing chamber
  2. At a position in the Ringing chamber where the notice is visible from the stairway
  3. On the door to the Clock chamber
  4. On the steps leading up to the Bell chamber

 

All ringers know not to enter the Bell chamber when the bells are UP.

Injury caused by a moving bell – Bells Down situation This hazard could happen if persons are in the Bell chamber and a bell or bells are swung by someone pulling the ropes in the Ringing chamber.

 

If a person is standing in the bell pit the sudden movement of the bell could give the person a knock to the body or head.

 

If a person is standing on the top of the bell frame a sudden bell movement could cause the person to lose his footing and fall through the frame – potentially a serious injury.

On most occasions when 1 or 2 ringers need to enter the Bell chamber there are other ringers present in the Ringing chamber who will ensure that no one touches the ropes.

 

Ropes pulled up on the rope spider, making them difficult to reach.

 

Notice displayed at the entrance to the Ringing chamber to say there are “men at work in the Bell chamber” for the occasions when there is no “informed” person in the Ringing chamber.

Working at Height In order to check/change/maintain the bell ropes, to replace a stay or to check the tightness of headstock bolts it is necessary to climb onto the top of the bell frame when the bells are down. A fall down into a bell pit could result in a serious injury.

 

Such necessary work is carried out by the Steeple Keeper and other experienced ringers who have learned from their predecessors where climb up and climb down, where to stand safely in order to use both hands, and what can be safely be held onto when moving about on the bell frame.

The very nature of most bell installations means there is no space to provide safe “standing areas” next to each bell at frame top height to carry out work.

 

Follow the policy of never working alone in the tower when it is necessary to work on top of the bell frame.

Easy to bump your head For checking/greasing/tightening clappers and checking sliders it is necessary to get under the bells when they are down. Poynton’s bell installation is very good in this respect in that there is height enough below the bell frame to get around comfortably on hands and knees. However it is easy to bump your head on frame members, bells and other protrusions. Use safety helmet when working under the bell frame.
Working alone Higher risk if the work involves the more hazardous tasks such as working on top of the bell frame. An injury or illness could be such that it is not possible to phone for help, and it could be days before anyone else enters the tower. Discourage working alone in the tower

 

If working alone on less hazardous tasks make sure someone knows you are there and when you are expected finish. Display the appropriate notice at the entrance to the Ringing chamber.

No one knows you are up there See Working alone above  
Lighting failure There are 3 bulkhead lights in the Bell chamber and emergency lighting.

 

During daylight hours there is sufficient light be able to leave the Bell chamber safely.

 

During dark evening hours if the church floodlights are on there will be some light in the Bell chamber to see to leave.

 

Discourage working after dark.

 

 

 

Never known to have happened.

Fire Smoke detector and audible warning installed Follow emergency evacuation procedure detailed in Ringing chamber.

 

All persons to familiarise themselves with the procedure.

 

Clock Chamber Risks

 

Hazard Explanation Mitigation/action
No one knows you are up there The clock is wound twice each week – usually during the daytime on Tuesdays and then again during ringing practice on Friday evenings. Follow ‘working alone’ procedure if nobody else present
Easy to bump your head Not a major problem unless the light fails Would be minor bump only on the drives to dials
Lighting failure There is emergency lighting in the Clock chamber.  
Fire Smoke detector and audible warning installed Follow emergency evacuation procedure detailed in Ringing chamber.

 

All persons to familiarise themselves with the procedure.

 

Ringing Chamber Risks

 

Hazard Explanation Mitigation/action
Bells Up Situation Potential injury to a non-ringer who pulls one of the bell ropes.

 

When the bells are occasionally left up (see Bells UP situation above for the Bell chamber) the ropes are pulled up on the rope spider and a warning notice is attached to the ropes.

Nobody allowed in the tower unless accompanied by a keyholder

 

Make sure non-ringing key holders have the necessary awareness of the dangers in the tower and the meaning of any warning notices.

Bells Down Situation Interference with the bell ropes could cause costly damage to the clock hammers, but no injury to persons

 

 

Make sure non-ringing key holders are aware that there should be no interference with the bell ropes.

 

Even when the bells are DOWN the ropes are always pulled up on the rope spider reducing the temptation to “have a pull”.

Non ringers not being aware of potential dangers See above Make sure all warning notices are prominently displayed
Access to outside of Chancel Roof The door in the north wall leads onto a leaded gutter between the chancel roof and tower wall. At each end of the gutter it would be possible to fall to the ground (approx 10 metres)

 

The door is mainly used occasionally to inspect and clean the gutter and is normally hidden behind a curtain in the Ringing chamber.

“NO ESCAPE” sign fixed over the doorway

 

All visitors to be accompanied by a key holder.

Injury through a ringing incident Injuries can be sustained if a bell stay breaks or if the ringer mishandles the rope.

 

 

When a person learns to ring the first stage is to learn to handle a bell correctly and safely, and during this time the new ringer is made aware of the potential dangers and how to detect and avoid them.

 

Injuries to ringers are rare

Lights fail The Ringing chamber and the spiral steps to ground level have emergency lighting that switches on if the main power fails. This enables the ringers to safely stop ringing and to then lower the bells to the safe DOWN position.  
Fire Smoke detector and audible warning installed Follow emergency evacuation procedure detailed in Ringing chamber.

 

All persons to familiarise themselves with the procedure.

 

General Risks

 

Hazard Explanation Mitigation/action
Dangers to young children St George’s child protection policy. The bellringers follow the guidelines (Protecting Young Ringers) issued by the Central Council of Church Bellringers. These are displayed on the notice board and have been endorsed by the PCC.
Fire The most dangerous situation would be a fire starting in the church with the ringers not being aware of it soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electrical equipment (Heater, Computer items, Vacuum cleaner) are used in the Ringing chamber. There is a low fire risk here.

 

Smoke detector installed above the organ in the base of the tower. This will set off a flashing light and audible alarm in the Ringing chamber.

 

If audible alarm sounds evacuate the tower immediately, following the Fire Evacuation Procedure detailed in Ringing chamber.

 

All persons to be made aware of the evacuation procedure. Fire exits to be signed.

 

All ringers and key holders know that smoking is prohibited. “No Smoking” sign is displayed at the entrance to the tower. “Strangers” visiting the tower to be made aware that smoking is prohibited.

 

Two types of fire extinguisher are installed in the Ringing chamber to deal with any small fires (eg an electrical appliance fire)

 

Electrical appliances in use in the tower to be routinely PAT tested.

 

Fire drill (evacuation) to be conducted at least once per year.

 

Bellringers representatives to attend St George’s

Fire and Safety Briefings.

Medical Emergency Illness or injury occurring in the tower. Follow the Medical Emergency Procedure displayed in the Ringing chamber.

 

A First Aid Kit is held in the Ringing chamber

 

Review carried out by: D W Friend
Signed:  
Date:  
Next review due: January 2018

 

Original of document to be kept in the Ringing chamber and a copy given to the church Health & Safety Co-ordinator.