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Would really appreciate your views on this please. I'll try and keep and short so here goes ..............

 

We are a Committee run Church pre-school and hire the Church hall. The hall's not bad but since 2002 I have been asking for a risk assessment to be done on the premises to link with the risk assessments that I do (daily/weekly/annually).

 

I have still not had one and no one wants to take the responsibility for doing one. The Pre-school Chairman (the Vicar & our employer) has buried his head in the sand and seems to think I am making a fuss about nothing. The Centre Chairperson told me that it is not her job to get one done. They hire this hall out to other groups as well e.g cubs/brownies/stroke club etc. as well as to members of the public for parties etc. Centre Chairperson tells me that they do not need to do do a risk assessment for their insurance.

 

We have broken paving slabs outside and it's a miracle that no one has tripped over them yet. They are hiring out electrical equipment (kettle/cooker/hoover etc.) for all to use, that has not been PAT tested. I have no idea whether the electrical sockets are working properly. I know that the fire alarm/extinguishers have been checked but only because I rang the company that checks & maintains them.

 

So my question is for those groups that hire premises, are you given a risk assessment doc on your premises (annually) or am I just making a fuss about nothing? I have seen the H & S poster displayed and that says that for 5 employees or more they should do a risk assessment. The vicar would say that as leader then I should do it .... but I can't assess the premises and am not qualified to do so, and feel that it should be the duty of those that we hire the hall from. I'm not quite sure how far to take this but this can't be right.

 

I would really appreciate your advice on this. Thanks in advance!

 

Janice

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Hi Janice

 

Ive just been speaking to my dad who is the chairman of our village hall

 

He says that it is the responsibility of the chair person to do a risk assessment and if anything happened (accident wise) it will be on the church's head, not yours.

 

With regards to the paving, this should be dealt with asap due to people tripping and sueing the church. If the church do not have any plans in place to deal with maintaining/repairing these slabs then they will get into serios trouble.

 

Maybe its worth saying this to the chairpeople that their necks could be on the line if it isn't done.

 

And if you are not trained in Risk Assessment then no, you cannot do one.

 

I hope this helps a little bit! Keep in touch with the progress and good luck!

 

Sallie :o

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Hi Janice

(Beware - essay approaching!!!!)

We too are a committee run Pre School who hire a church hall. Our employer and Registered person is the Pre School Committee, and therefore they are wholly responsible for the legal requirements and implementation of the Standards.

 

Who is the Registered Person/Body for your Group? It is their responsibility to fulfil all the National Standards requirements.

 

We are insured with the PLA and along with their insurance document comes a pre printed Risk Assessment booklet. We do the risk assessment and complete the booklet ourselves - highlighting any areas for attention and bringing them to the attention of the Committee and Church Property Commitee / Minister.

 

As a church, being a public building I think you will find that the fire extinguishers will need to be checked by your local Fire Protection service engineer - this is done annually and they will issue a Fire Safety certificate. You will also need a Gas safety certificate (issued annually) and an Electrical Safety certificate issued every 5 years. Any reputable Gas / Electrical engineer should do this for you. You will need to produce these certificates at your Ofsted inspection.

 

I really feel for you Janice, as I appreciate how difficult it can be sometimes. Just keep on pestering, and have a copy of the National Standards Guidance Booklet handy to show your committee what they are responsible for. Try explaining that other Group's Insurance will differ from yours, and hope that the committee will respect the importance to keeping children safe is whilst attending the church premises, and necessary paperwork which goes with it.

 

 

Keep me posted

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Thanks for replies so far - very supportive!

 

The Vicar is the Registered Person as well as Chairman of the Committee. As I said earlier, he is burying his head in the sand as he doesn't want to make a stand against the Centre Chairperson whose responsibility I feel it is to do the risk assessment.

 

We have 2 new parent reps on our committee who are fully supportive of the stand I am making and who will certainly not let the matter rest. I am quite prepared to ask the PLA dev. worker to talk to the Committee but they don't like any outside interference!(which they will see it as)

 

I think tomorrow I will contact the HSE and see what they've got to say. I can feel a resignation coming ( mine ) but this is just a blatant refusal to accept their responsibilities, both of the Centre Chairperson who hires us the hall and the Pre-school Chairman who employs us.

 

I also have to remember that this is the same employer who couldn't quite understand the fuss I made about registering the Pre-school with the Inland Revenue for tax and N.I. purposes. They just didn't deduct any! :o

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Poor you Janice - don't quit - stand your ground.

Sometimes people are afraid of what this might involve, in terms of cost, manpower etc. - if it is any help, from past experience, we have managed to reduce the mountains into molehills, by listening to the other side of the coin, and asking the church to do the same. It's hard work and quite demoralising to have to keep returning to the same issues time and time again, but be firm and respectful. Sometimes it is the fear of the unknown and degree of responsibility that people feel threatened with which prevents them from actually doing what they are responsible for.

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Oh dear myhenroxanne .......... such a sensible reply, wish I'd listened to you before I went off on one to the Vicar and Centre Chairperson last week. Don't think I was very respectful - actually I know I wasn't, but I was cross.

 

Anyway - have been on the phone to the HSE and the hall's insurance company and here's the reply .........

 

HSE - say that the Employer (Pre-school committee) has overall responsibility to provide a Healthy and Safe workplace. They can delegate the risk assessment to me but only if I am capable of doing it and I am certainly not capable of checking electrical sockets/electrical equipment etc. etc. so they should take steps to get it assessed by someone more qualified than myself.

 

Insurers of Hall - they say that it is a condition of the policy to uphold their Duty of Care and they recommend that a risk assessment is done annually.

 

So I do feel that the Vicar and the Centre Chairperson are avoiding their responsibilities, or in the case of the Vicar is just not aware of them.

 

So here's a little question for those of you that hire a hall ........... how many of you are given a risk assessment doc. of your premises to show that everything's been checked and in good working order/or that action/repair is needed ????

 

So sorry for going on and on about this - thanks for listening! :o

 

Janice

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We were always able to have a copy of the Gas, Electrical and fire alarm inspection records, but I never saw anything relating to the building or the outside area. Pretty certain that when our chair asked about the H&S poster she was told to get her own. When the car park was being resurfaced we just asked parents to be careful when walking around it. Invite the vicar in so she/he can see exactly what you have to do, they are ostly still under the impression that you and people like you are moms with a bit of spare time on your hands so you decided to 'just play'. Let them know what you do and how you have to comply with certain regulations. :D

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Hi Janice, I agree with myhenroxanne's comment. However, understanding does not always equate to achieving action, it just takes the edge off the feelings of frustration.

 

I rent a scout hall, I have never had a risk assessment from my landlord. However, last year I was told someone was coming in to check the attic for asbestos ( during preschool hours) I was given the asbestos check report.

 

As the owner and registered person I do my own risk assessment. This does not entail checking electrics (obviously) but if I was in your shoes my risk assessment would state to the landlord, in writing, that "no maintenance or regular checking of electrical sockets / appliances has been recorded as a high risk on the preschool risk assessment." ( you need to check the rental / hire agreement, it may state you are responsible for your own checks)

At my preschool the scouts pay an electrician to check their electrical equipment, but not mine, so I pay a seperate person to check mine. We have seperate kettles etc etc (don't ask!!!!!)

 

Your dilemma, if I understand it correctly, is that the Centre Chairperson feels they are adequately covered through public liability insurance and they are "recommended" to do risk assessments, but it appears not to be a "requirement" for their insurance company. The vicar "chairperson-registered person" does not fully understand his legal responsibility to the safety and wellbeing of the children and employees within the preschool, ( ie: to carry out the risk assessment- he can delegate to you if it is part of your contract / job description) and that this responsibility is totallly seperate to the responsibilities of the centre Chairperson, as landlord.

 

I think you must have other issues to feel the need to resign, but I agree with your principles that safety is paramount and you should not be expected to work in an environment that offers risk to yourself and the children / parents.

One course of action, should you not have any more success with your current attempts to get things done is to make a complaint to ofsted, ( maybe you need to let the committee know that you would have no other option if things are not sorted) for example about the dangerous paving. This would not be an easy course to take, like any child protection issue ( which this is in a broad sense). Ofsted would (should) act on your complaint by visiting the preschool and asking the vicar what he proposes to do about it, if they feel he is reluctant to meet this requirement then they could serve him with a "non compliance order" in other words he and the rest of the committee would have to address their legal obligations for safety, or risk financial penalty or even closure. Also the fact that your working conditions are making you feel the need to resign could be construed as "unfair dismisal" .

 

We all have a responsibility for safety, we cannot bury our heads, pass the buck or be complacent because others are, you are in a difficult situation but not as difficult if an injury or worse ( fire threat re electrics) occurs, maybe your position doesn't make you liable in a legal manner, but your concience is telling you to get this issue sorted. Good luck to you, I hope you don't have to go to such drastic measures as I have suggested.

I really do feel for you, let us know how things go.

 

Peggy

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Thanks so much for the replies.

 

I have decided that my next course of action must be a letter to the Vicar stating his legal obligations as Registered Person (as per Standards) and as our Employer (as per HSE).

 

I will list areas of concern that I have with the hall/outside area/electrics etc.etc. and state that although I am responsible for H & S within the Pre-school, I am not qualified to assess the risks for these areas.

 

I won't be able to say that I've spoken to the Hall's insurers as that would go down like a ton of lead bricks & they might think that I've overstepped the mark. Which I have done really.

 

As Peggy says, there are other issues here which would contribute towards me resigning, and feeling like I am banging my head against a brick wall/feeling like I am running this place by myself (but without full control) are just a couple of the reasons for this. It is a Committee run Pre-school in name only, we have a Treasurer to whom we are paying a weekly wage (don't go there!) and who can only bother to pop in once a month/we have outstanding bills 'cos he hasn't paid them/we only get wage slips as and when he feels like - like buses, they usually don't come and then come in threes) He won't get involved in any forecasts/projections etc. and gets an extra weeks wages for calculating our annual pay rise.

 

But please tell me (before I get myself into any more trouble) am I moaning needlessly or is it like this for other Committee run groups????

 

I think my main issue with the Committee is the Committee recognising their responsibilities as our Employer and as the Registered body. Anyway I've said enough ........ I'm going now .............. byeeeeeeeeeeeee :o

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Hi Janice

you are having a wonderful week by the sounds of it. you know where i am and i have never had a risk assessment done by the church, but they do have health and safety people from the borough come in once a year and do checks although i never see them they are usually done when i'm there. i try to point out the things that worry me when they are going round. but on the good news front in Poole there is a lady from the Haelth and Safety/ Environmental health what ever they are called that does checks only for the pre-schools and nurseries. Ofsted brought it in a couple of years ago that pre-schools etc. needed to have health and safety checks on buildings that were used by children from the perspective of children using the premises. i will find the paperwork and let you know who it is.

i think your vicar needs to get his act together and take responsibility as your registered person and understand what it means. i have a different committee to the vicar that runs my hall, and i go to them if something is not right, especially if its a danger. i do my own risk assessments and also have to do them because i have students and the Dorset Enterprise that organises the work placements make me do their format as well as my own format. have you considered taking it over as private. the church might jump at the chance to get rid of what might be seen as a problem!!!!! you are to good to let it go and all your hard work down the proverbiable!!!!! give me a shout if you want to talk face to face good luck and keep smiling :D:D:D:D:D:D:D don't let them get the better of you.

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oh just read the last bit of your letter. from what i can see and hear locally either the committees are really good or really bad. there never seems to be a happy medium, alot of the time if they have a good leader then they leave alot up to them. thats why i own my group because of a run in with a committee. makes me a bit biased against. if you are doing all the work now at least if you owned it you would be doing it for your own satisfaction. its your reputation that brings in the children not the vicars i expect!!! at lot of groups are going the private route. good luck and give me a ring if you want any help :):o

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Ah thanks for those reassuring words Steph - you fooled me 'cos you've changed your avatar!

 

There is no way on this earth that the Church will let go of it's Pre-school - whether I am running it or not.

 

I am just getting further and further into this and wonder if I should be making such a fuss - but it just doesn't seem right to me, that they (and I mean that generally) hire out these halls/charge us rent/expect us to leave it spick and span (although we might not find it like that) and not have to be accountable for assessing the risk to those that hire the hall from them. If an accident was to happen, then a risk assessment is the first thing they are going to have wished they'd done, even if it's just to cover their backs.

 

Or is it just me/am I being too pedantic ..... I think I am losing the plot !!!!!!!!!!! (or lost it!) :o

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Hi Janice,

I don't think you are being too pedantic, maybe losing the plot though because you have so much to handle. May I suggest that you try and find yourself 5 minutes, (in a cool dark room), and just list the top 3 priorities which you feel should be addressed and have these placed on the agenda for the next committee meeting.

Take things a few steps at a time, on a seperate piece of paper list all the other things you want dealt with (get them out your head) fold the paper and hide at the back of a draw, in a bag or file and forget it until the 1st 3 priorities have been dealt with.

 

Peggy

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Hi Janice

 

Haven't seen you for a while as I have crept over the border! Stick to your guns ! The Nursery that I manage has had an inspection recently under the new walk in system. She was very thorough and particularly checked our risk assessment folder and questioned me about safety issues. You need to let your line management (the Vicar ?) know that this has to be taken seriously. Make notes of all you have been doing as proof to Ofsted that you have acknowledged the problem and are trying to resolve it just in case they walk up your path soon.

 

Good luck

 

 

Teri

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Maybe it's just a Dorset thing! Only kidding I'm in Dorset too! I know some people can be stuck in their ways!

 

Having been on both sides of the fence (I served on tbe Committee for several years, am now a Pre-School Assistant as well as just recently paid admin), I think the responsiblities of running a Pre-School are just too great for unpaid volunteers and we are looking at alternative ways to run as I'm sure at some point Committee run Pre-Schools will become a thing of the past. I don't think our current situation is the fault of the comittee, just a result of a changing world, we need to evolve, it is a problem that needs solving.

 

Each year our committee gets smaller, the responsiblities bigger, hence having to pay someone (me) to do the wages, admin etc because we were finding it more and more difficult to get anything done properly or at all. At least that bit has now improved!! The staff carry out risk assessments, although we pay an electrician to assess the electrics once a year, but we are fortunate to have our own premises.

 

Your situation seems very difficult indeed (I'm trying to imagine having to deal with our Vicar - not the same one is it?) at least we have a very good chairperson. I think you have to persist in making them see their responsibility, in a calm and positive way. A carefully worded letter that sets out clearly and consisely your concerns would enable you to avoid an unpleasant situation. For some our modern world can be daunting, as it must be daunting for you to have to shoulder this responsibilty yourself. But luckily you're not alone - you've got all of us!! Good luck, let us know how you get on.

 

Deb

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Phew, my computer is on go slow for some reason and it took me ages to get to the end of all these posts! I have something to add as I run a christian pre-school, with the vicar as chair. We are Church of England and I have no idea if its the same for other denominations but, I am also the Church Warden, which means I employ the vicar!!! Heady position eh? If we had these problems I would be sufficiently concerned to

(a) write formally to the PCC (Parochial Church Council) who are responsible for the building and maintenance. This will have to come up as Correspondence on the Agenda and therefore cannot be ignored. The more people who become involved from a church leadership perspective, the better. State clearly the slabs are not only a risk for your nursery users but Church members too and that the Church have to address it urgently.

(:o send a copy to the Church Wardens who have legal responsibility for the building and also have the right to complain if the Vicar is falling short in any way

© No satisfaction from a & b? Contact the rural dean who should be extremely up on all the legislation and who is higher than the vicar....

No, you won't be the most popular person for a while but this MUST BE ADDRESSED for everyone's safety.

You are right that the church have to risk assessments if they employ more than 5 staff. We as a church are just about to tip the scale and embark on risk assessments but we are a very dynamic, go-ahead church and aren't afraid to tackle these things head on.

 

Good luck.

Let me know if you need more advice.

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We too hire our hall (church) and I must say that all is well on the safety front. A major inspection is done inside and out every five years and the electrics/gas/fire hoses etc annually. I have a copy of the final report (5 year inspection) and details of problems are listed, and the time frame in which the church has to complete the work. If any problems do arise, then the church committee, will deal with them - they have a 'working committee' which does work well.

 

All the posts are interesting reading and found the comment about the kettle amusing! must be the norm when hiring a hall.

 

I will now have an electrician in to check computer leads etc. as these are our own and nothing to do with the church.

 

Thanks for all your advice

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Well here goes with a little update. :)

 

Centre Chairperson came to see me on Tuesday - she was charm personified! Of course what I haven't told you about is the huge issue I've had with her re the hall re storage. They are turning our main storage cupboard into a loo and gave us some tiny little cupbard in its place. Anyway, to cut a very long story short, she has now given us all this extra storage space, fixed things like the clock/doorbell and told me that they are going to get estimates to tarmac the front entrance area and they are treating it as urgent. She obviously felt like the bearer of great news and I didn't feel it was appropriate at that moment to say .... and what about the risk assessments? Mainly because I know that the insurers of the hall will want one done, they cannot really avoid doing one now.

 

So I will e mail the Vicar over the weekend thanking him for his help in the storage issue, and then just mention about the legal obligation of having the risk assessment done (as our employer) and the hall's duty of care to its users.

 

In the meantime, the parents have started up a petition (led by the 2 parent reps on the committee), which they intend to deliver to the Vicar and a copy to the Centre Chairperson next week (regarding the paving slabs and safety checks in the hall) I will try and keep my head down on that front!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

But I must say 'Thanks' to everyone here for their help and support - there was some realy good advice in these posts:D - it's good to see that some places are bang up to date with everything.

 

I wonder what the next instalment in this will be ??????

 

Byeeeeeeeeeee :o

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That is good news Janice, and it seems you have got some sensible allies on the committee now so hopefully your time can be spent enjoying the Christmas season with the children ( dodgy paving slabs and ice doesn't bear thinking about-so don't ) leave the " Standard 14 " to those responsible.

 

Have a nice weekend.

 

Peggy

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