Memorial Safety FAQ

Memorial Safety FAQ

Memorial safety in Walsall Council cemeteries

The council is committed to ensuring that families can visit their loved-ones in safe and well-maintained surroundings

Walsall Council has collaborated with Dudley, Sandwell and Wolverhampton councils to introduce common regulations about how memorials are safely erected within their respective cemeteries. Memorial masons must comply with these rules when installing memorials. They must also be a member of the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons (BRAMM) or National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM).

These four authorities are committed to managing their cemeteries with both sensitivity and safety in mind. Memorial safety is an essential element in this commitment and the Memorial Management Protocol helps to ensure that risks to the health and safety of visitors and staff are properly controlled.

The Management of Memorials Protocol and its impact in Walsall's cemeteries is reviewed regularly. A Memorial Officer monitors all applications for memorial work in Walsall cemeteries.

What should I do if my memorial is vandalised or damaged?

Although instances of vandalism or theft are extremely rare in cemeteries, should it happen to your memorial, it will, quite understandably, be very upsetting to you. You are strongly advised to consider the option of insuring the memorial against such occurrences, especially as the council's own insurance does not cover such incidents. Your memorial mason should be able to offer you further advice.

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Why are the council involved in the testing?

The council is not responsible for the memorial but does have a duty of care under Health and Safety Legislation to safeguard visitors to the cemeteries and our emplyees. An important part of the work we are carrying out in this area is to ensure that the public are aware of what we are doing and why.

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Why are we doing it now?

A number of accidents involving memorials, some serious including a fatality, have occured across the country in the past ten years. Burial authorities and the Health and Safety Executive haved focused on the issue, with action now being taken to reduce the potential risk to cemetery visitors and our employees.

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What causes a memorial to become unsafe?

When lawn headstone memorials become unsafe it is normally due to the failure of the joint between the memorial and the foundation.

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How will the memorial be made safe?

The council introduced a new installation standard with effect from 1st April 2004. This involves the use of a ground anchor. The fitting of this ground anchor and additional dowels will make the memorial as safe as reasonably possible.

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Who will carry out the re-fixing?

A Memorial Mason who is registered to work in the borough’s cemeteries and is on the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons (BRAMM) or is a member of the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) as are all memorial masons permitted to work in Walsall cemeteries. They will guarantee that all work is carried out in compliance to the National Association of Memorial Masons Code of Working Practice.

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What will the council do if they find that my lawn headstone memorial is unstable and potentially hazardous?

Any memorials that are found to be unsafe will be temporarily supported or laid flat. Where possible you will be notified of our findings and, where possible and practicable, the council will arrange for the necessary re-fixing to be carried out on your behalf. Do not tamper with this support.

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Are all memorials unsafe?

No. We expect to find only a small percentage of memorials which we consider to be immediately dangerous.

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What happens next?

Where possible and practicable we will make arrangements for the unsafe lawn headstone memorial to be re-fixed to the current standards and advise you when that has taken place.

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How long will this take?

The work will be processed at a rate that reflects the resources available.

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What will it cost me?

Lawn headstones in Walsall cemeteries that are tested in this phase of work and found to be unsafe will be re-fixed at no cost to yourself by the council’s contracted memorial mason. You can elect to have the work done at your own cost by your own memorial mason who must be BRAMM registered.

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What difference will I notice?

The inscription and condition of the lawn headstone memorial will remain unchanged. The memorial will be re-fixed to a larger foundation slab that conforms to the current standards.

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What about traditional memorials?

Traditional memorials will initially be visually inspected and any deemed to be unsafe will be made safe by supporting or laying flat the memorial. Attempts will be made to contact the owner of the memorial and it will be the owner’s responsibility to effect repairs.

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