Building Safety

Recommendations for preventing accidents in church buildings


We are a community within which love, justice, truth, peace and self-discipline are nurtured and valued. The overall aim for the Screening in Faith policy is to ensure that there is a safe environment in every parish, ministry, and activity.

Occupier's liability
Occupier's liability deals with the duties and responsibilities of those that own, operate or control premises. Premises are defined as land, buildings and other structures erected on land.

Occupier's liability applies to all individuals, all public and private organizations, and all types of premises including land, buildings and other structures. In all provinces, the common law duty of an occupier is codified in statute.

An occupier is defined as a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of a premise or the activities carried out on a premise, or a person who has control over persons allowed to enter a premise. At any given time there can be more than one occupier of a single premise. Occupiers can thus include owners or renters of land or buildings as well as occasional or one-time users of land or buildings, such as public facilities or public parks.

Occupiers have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of those who use their premises. Most importantly from the perspective of screening, it applies to the actions and activities of persons on the premises, whether employees, volunteers, participants or other third parties.

This duty certainly applies to the condition of the premises.*

Building Safety Checklist

The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa recommends that the following practices be observed in and around all church buildings. They protect churchgoers and help meet our legal responsibility as the occupiers of church premises.

✓ Boiler Inspection Certificate to be kept in or near the boiler room
✓ Agreement for Use of Church Property (church, hall, etc.) to be used when allowing someone to use facilities - with or without payment

At all times... Entrances, walkways, yards
✓ Stairs, guard-rails, walkways to be kept in good repair

At all times... inside the building
✓ Furnace rooms and access to be kept clear of all material other than those used for heating
✓ Computers are to be kept in locked rooms. Keep records secure with passwords.
✓ Do not use electrical extension cords

Monthly check
✓  Smoke detector
✓  All emergency lighting

Annual check by service providers
✓  Furnace and fireplaces
✓  Fire extinguishers (check and tag)
✓  All oil tanks for leaks and any sign of deterioration
✓  Electrical panels and wiring

Don't forget
✓ Keep inspection and repair records safe and accessible in church files. Date and initial items after each inspection.
✓ All doors and walkways must be kept cleared of snow and ice at all times
✓ All grounds are to be cleared of any debris
✓  Premises should be kept locked unless under supervision. A complete and up to date list of people with keys should be carefully maintained.
✓  Holes in parking lots and driveways should be dealt with immediately
✓  Check lightning rods for proper connections
✓ All fire doors must be kept closed

* Excerpted from Screening and the Law, at

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