Audit

Why is a property inspection necessary?

As part of its commitment to creating a safe and healthy working environment and in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, The Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod (the Church) will ensure Church properties are maintained in a good and safe condition in order to reduce potential exposures to workers within workplaces and places of worship.

The Uniting Church in Australia Regulations also articulates the responsibilities of Presbyteries and Congregations in relation to the management of Church Property. The Synod Office is committed to providing Presbyteries and Congregations with tools and information to assist the Church in fulfilling its duty of care and legislative obligations.

By utilising these tools and information, the Church can reduce the risk of injury and illness occurring within workplaces and places of worship through creating safer places for all workers and visitors.

Duty of Care
“The Uniting Church has a deep concern for the wholeness and well-being of each individual. Our church seeks to safeguard the welfare of all people regardless of age, who come in contact with the Church and its organisations. It is the responsibility of each individual within the fellowship of the Church to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all people”
(The Uniting Church Duty of Care – Adapted policy statement endorsed by the Queensland Synod in 1998)

Legislative & Regulatory Compliance
In addition to the Church’s duty of care, the Church also has legal obligations to ensure health and safety and property management / maintenance detailed as follows:

The main object of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 is “…….to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces by protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare through the elimination or minimisation of risks arising from work or from particular types of substances or plant” (Section 3 (1)(a)).

Presbytery Property Committee
Regulation 4.3.2 (a)(v) of The Uniting Church in Australia Regulations states:
“A Presbytery Property Committee, subject to any relevant by-laws and directions of the Presbytery shall regularly inspect or arrange for the regular inspection of properties for which the Presbytery and Church Councils and other bodies within the bounds of the Presbytery are responsible and propose and report to Presbytery such action as may seem desirable to ensure that the properties are maintained in good and safe condition.”

Congregation Church Council
Regulation 4.4.1 of The Uniting Church in Australia Regulations states:
“Subject to the Regulations, the by-laws of the Synod and the rules of Presbytery, the Church Council shall be responsible for the management and administration of all property of the Church acquired or held for the use of the Congregation, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing shall:
(a) be responsible for the care and maintenance of property;
……
(g) do such other things as are necessary or appropriate for the use and management of all property acquired or held for the Congregation.”

To comply with these legislative and regulatory expectations each Presbytery and Congregation must ensure annual property inspections are conducted and property maintenance checklists are completed. Inspections must be completed of each Presbytery / Congregation property to identify issues relating to health and safety, property maintenance and insurance.

HOW SHOULD THIS INFORMATION BE USED?
This information should be used to identify property maintenance, health and safety concerns and other insurance exposures that may require attention within workplaces and places of worship.

Once completed, each Presbytery / Congregation should identify any risks or exposures and develop an action plan or steps to take in order to rectify or repair any areas of concern at each property.

For assistance with developing action plans or any other queries in respect of the Annual Property Maintenance Checklist, please contact the Queensland Synod Office division appropriate to your query as outlined below:

Property Services
Manager, Property Resources: Stephen Peake
Phone: (07) 3377 9838
Fax: (07) 3377 9781
Email: property@ucaqld.com.au

Risk & Insurance
Risk & Insurance Manager: David Munro
Senior Risk Consultant: Peter Rose
Senior Insurance Adviser: Jason Grimsey
Insurance Assistant: Carrie Maule
Phone: (07) 3377 9725
(07) 3377 9729
Fax: (07) 3377 9781
Email: insurance@ucaqld.com.au
health.safety@ucaqld.com.au

A copy of the completed checklist and action plans needs to be retained on the Presbytery / Congregation records, with copies of each be forwarded to the Presbytery office and the below address:
Risk & Insurance
The Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod
GPO Box 674
BRISBANE QLD 4001 

General Documentation / Information

Policies

Have you adopted the Synod's Work Health and Safety Policy?

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A Work Health and Safety Policy is a commitment to providing a safe place for your workers, members and other visitors. The Uniting Church in Australia Queensland Synod has developed a policy that may provide direction if one is not in place.

Have you adopted the Synod's Safe Ministry with Children Policy?

When was the Safe Ministry with Children policy last adopted?

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The Safe Ministry with Children policy has been developed to enable a congregation to build practices that will help ensure its ministry with children is undertaken in a safe manner. It will help to set an environment in which children can experience the love of God toward them.


All congregations are required to accept and embrace this policy in the spirit of its call as the church to build communities of faith, hope and love that bear witness to the life of the promised Kingdom of God.

The policy needs to be adopted annually and a sample minute can be found within the Safe Ministry with Children resources on the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod's webiste (http://ucaqld.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Overseeing-SMC-guide-for-committees.pdf).

Registers and Records
Asbestos

Is there any asbestos present in any of your buildings?

It is a requirement of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 that all workplaces know whether or not there is asbestos present at the site to ensure the safety of their workers.

When was your last Asbestos Audit undertaken?

Is a copy of the report easily accessible for workers and contractors?

The presence and location of the asbestos should be entered on site plans and the asbestos register and be accessible to all workers and contractors to ensure they are aware of the presence of asbestos.

Is the location of all asbestos labelled?

A workplace must ensure the presence and location of asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACM) is clearly indicated. The location of asbestos or ACM must be highlighted by a label or warning sign.

Chemical Management

Do you have a chemical register?

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To ensure all site personnel can readily access this information it is a requirement that a register is compiled for every chemical used on site – both industrial and domestic. The chemical register should be placed where the chemicals are stored and in a secondary location such as a reception area. This gives personnel easy access to information about the on-site chemicals used and, in the event of an emergency (i.e. fire), rescue crews can obtain vital information about on-site substances from various locations.

Are all hazardous substances (including fuels, cleaning products and chemicals) properly labelled and stored in accordance with the information on safe use?

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Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are documents which outline specific health and safety information relating to a substance or chemical. This information includes:

• Whether the substance is classified as hazardous
• Chemical aspects of the substance
• First aid advice
• Risk controls to prevent injury

Section 344 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 addresses a congregation’s obligations in relation to the obtaining of safety data sheets (SDS). In part (3) the regulations stipulate that the organisation must ensure a SDS is available to workers and emergency services workers. Section (4) then indicates an organisation doesn’t need to obtain if the item is a consumer product and used in quantities that are consistent with household use and (c) (ii) is used in a way that is consistent with household use. Even in the case of household quantities sections (5) and (6) both indicate that an organisation must still make information available to workers, emergency services and any person that asks for it. The easiest way to comply with your obligations under Section 344 of the regulations will be to obtain an SDS for each substance, chemical, cleaning product and fuel that may be stored on site.

Safety Data Sheets should then be stored in the chemical register and placed in the storage area for all chemicals.

Safe Ministry with Children

Is a register of workers being maintained?

Does it contain the names and blue card information of all workers?

Have all workers involved in children's ministries and your Church Council members received training in the Safe Ministry with Children policy and procedures?

When was training last undertaken?

Is the building regularly used by other church groups, agencies or by the general community?

Could your property be shared with other denominations or Uniting Care activities?

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This question is designed to look at ways the Church can better utilise its properties from a mission perspective.

Hire of Facilties

Is there a formal rental agreement with any other groups who use the property?

Are all licence agreements or leases counter-signed by The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (Q)?

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A hire agreement must be used for long and short term hiring of your buildings and equipment. The Property Resources Team in the Synod Office can provide further information in this regard.

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Do you utilise the Church’s Licence Agreement for Non Exclusive Use Agreement or lease agreements?

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This question takes into consideration the use and safety of our properties, but more importantly the higher duty of care responsibility we have to our tenants.

Secondly, is the Church incurring additional liability exposure from the activities being conducted by our tenants?

Building Environment

External

Is plant life blocking visibility of the property by passers-by or impeding safe entry or exit from the property by vehicles or pedestrians?

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Overgrown plants can affect member’s entry and exit into the property as it can potentially cause trips, create fire hazards and increase the risk of car accidents or collisions between drivers and pedestrians. In addition it can create a barrier behind which to hide presenting a possible security risk.

Are car parks and footpaths lit during night meetings?

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Navigation of car parks and footpaths at night without adequate lighting can cause hazards as members are unable to see where they are going and what is in front of them.

Are paths and/or walkways free from trip hazards and other obstacles?

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Navigation around trip hazards and other obstacles can put members at risk of injury. Clear paths and walkways enable smooth access to the property.

Are building materials, timber pallets, cardboard, loose boards, bricks or tiles stored anywhere on the property?

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Materials stored on the property can create potential hazards for members and young children accessing the property. Combustible materials stored outside the building have been used by arsonists to destroy property. Storing combustible materials inside sheds or buildings improves defences against arson.

Are rubbish bins stored inside the buildings or secured away from the buildings?

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Wheelie Bins can easily be pulled up alongside a building and the contents set alight causing significant damage to the building. Bins should be kept inside a building or chained in a secure location away from the building.

Buildings
How many buildings does your congregation have beneficial use of?
Building

Building Name

Is this building at the same address?

Building Location

Is there disabled access into the building (i.e. ramps or lifts)?

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It is a requirement for properties to have access for disabled members to enter the property. It may be classed as anti-discrimination if this service is not provided.

Are there any windows cracked or broken?

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General maintenance such as this directly relates to the security of the property and puts the property at risk of being broken into. It also reflects poor maintenance.

Do all doors and windows open easily and shut completely?

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Doors that do not work property can put members at risk of injury if they have to exert considerable force to open and close windows. It also presents a security risk if the windows aren’t secure.

Are floor surfaces, carpets or mats in good condition?

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Poor maintenance of floor surfaces (holes and tears in carpets, mats, vinyl) can create trip hazards and potentially put members at risk of injuring themselves.

Are floor surfaces even, level and free from trip and slip hazards?

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If floor surfaces are not properly maintained, it can created potential hazards for slips, trips and falls resulting in members sustaining an injury.

Are the internal/external steps/staircases in good condition and fitted with anti-slip tred?

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It is important to ensure that steps and handrails are steady and free from cracks, paint flaking etc. If not, they can become a risk to members using them due to their instability or disrepair. Anti-slip tred prevents slipping should the surface become wet.

Are handrails or balustrades installed where required (i.e. on stairs or balconies with a fall of more than a metre)?

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Handrails must be installed on all staircases or balconies that have a fall of more than a metre. They should also be installed to assist elderly/physically impaired members to climb stairs and/or ramps and prevent them from being put at risk of injury.

Are all aisles, exits and access ways clear of obstructions?

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Navigation around obstructions in aisles and access ways can put members at risk of slips, trips and falls. Aisles and access ways must always be clear of obstructions.

Is all furniture in a good and stable condition (i.e. chairs, pews, tables etc.)?

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Ensure all furniture is kept in good condition to prevent putting members at risk of injury (such as a chair breaking while being sat on).

Are all electrical cords kept in a safe manner (i.e. clear of all aisles, exits and access ways, not dangling loosely from raised surfaces)?

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If not stored or secured in a safe manner electrical cords can become a trip hazard. This can also lead to the cords being damaged or computers or other electrical items being damaged if accidentally pulled off a desk.

Are ceilings and walls in good repair (i.e. no water leaking, paint flaking, mould or mildew etc.)?

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Flaking paint materials, mould and mildew can contain potentially harmful contaminants that can be inhaled by members in the property and can either exacerbate a members existing condition (such as asthma) or cause illness.

Have gutters been cleaned in the past six months?

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Obstructed gutters can prevent the flow of water through the gutters and downpipes which may result in damage to the property (gutters rusting, clogged downpipes, water leaking internally). In addition to reducing the effective life of the guttering litter can increase the risk of fire spreading to buildings in bushfire prone areas.

Building Name

Is this building at the same address?

Building Location

Is there disabled access into the building (i.e. ramps or lifts)?

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It is a requirement for properties to have access for disabled members to enter the property. It may be classed as anti-discrimination if this service is not provided.

Are there any windows cracked or broken?

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General maintenance such as this directly relates to the security of the property and puts the property at risk of being broken into. It also reflects poor maintenance.

Do all doors and windows open easily and shut completely?

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Doors that do not work property can put members at risk of injury if they have to exert considerable force to open and close windows. It also presents a security risk if the windows aren’t secure.

Are floor surfaces, carpets or mats in good condition?

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Poor maintenance of floor surfaces (holes and tears in carpets, mats, vinyl) can create trip hazards and potentially put members at risk of injuring themselves.

Are floor surfaces even, level and free from trip and slip hazards?

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If floor surfaces are not properly maintained, it can created potential hazards for slips, trips and falls resulting in members sustaining an injury.

Are the internal/external steps/staircases in good condition and fitted with anti-slip tred?

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It is important to ensure that steps and handrails are steady and free from cracks, paint flaking etc. If not, they can become a risk to members using them due to their instability or disrepair. Anti-slip tred prevents slipping should the surface become wet.

Are handrails or balustrades installed where required (i.e. on stairs or balconies with a fall of more than a metre)?

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Handrails must be installed on all staircases or balconies that have a fall of more than a metre. They should also be installed to assist elderly/physically impaired members to climb stairs and/or ramps and prevent them from being put at risk of injury.

Are all aisles, exits and access ways clear of obstructions?

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Navigation around obstructions in aisles and access ways can put members at risk of slips, trips and falls. Aisles and access ways must always be clear of obstructions.

Is all furniture in a good and stable condition (i.e. chairs, pews, tables etc.)?

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Ensure all furniture is kept in good condition to prevent putting members at risk of injury (such as a chair breaking while being sat on).

Are all electrical cords kept in a safe manner (i.e. clear of all aisles, exits and access ways, not dangling loosely from raised surfaces)?

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If not stored or secured in a safe manner electrical cords can become a trip hazard. This can also lead to the cords being damaged or computers or other electrical items being damaged if accidentally pulled off a desk.

Are ceilings and walls in good repair (i.e. no water leaking, paint flaking, mould or mildew etc.)?

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Flaking paint materials, mould and mildew can contain potentially harmful contaminants that can be inhaled by members in the property and can either exacerbate a members existing condition (such as asthma) or cause illness.

Have gutters been cleaned in the past six months?

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Obstructed gutters can prevent the flow of water through the gutters and downpipes which may result in damage to the property (gutters rusting, clogged downpipes, water leaking internally). In addition to reducing the effective life of the guttering litter can increase the risk of fire spreading to buildings in bushfire prone areas.

Electrical

Safety

Has there been any alternative energy systems (solar, wind etc.) installed at your property?

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Workers need to be informed if solar panels are installed as they can pose a hazard. Even when the mains power is switched off energy will continue to be generated increasing the risk of injury and changing the manner in which fire departments will attack a fire.

Is an RCD (residual current device) or safety switch installed on each building?

Has the RCD or Safety Switch been tested in the past six months?

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Like all other safety devices it is essential that RCDs are tested to ensure they will work when required. A push button test must be completed every 6 months and your electrician needs to complete a time test once a year.

Has a time test of the RCD or Safety Switch been completed by a licensed contractor in the past 2 years?

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RCD testing completed by members will confirm that the switch will trip in the event of an earth leakage.

It is a legislative requirement that the test is conducted by a competent person periodically to ensure that the switch is tripping quickly enough to prevent electrocution. The class of work determines how often the switches need to be tested however for most work conducted by congregations the licensed contractor tests will need to be completed every 2 years.

Has all portable electrical equipment been inspected, tested and tagged by a qualified electrical worker?

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Testing and tagging electrical appliances provides an additional level of electrical protection for your congregation. Testing and tagging requirements are relaxed slightly when appliances are connected to a safety switch however the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002 still stipulates some equipment that must be tested.

Has all portable electrical equipment been inspected, tested and tagged by a qualified electrical worker?

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Testing and tagging electrical appliances provides an additional level of electrical protection for your congregation. As there is no safety switch installed on the building testing and tagging of electrical equipment must be undertaken. The Electrical Safety Regulation 2002 stipulates time frames for a variety of equipment to be tested.

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Safety switches play a vital role in protecting your congregation members and other users of your facilities from electrocution. All buildings should be protected by a safety switch.

Are safety plugs used in all power points that are not being utilised?

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Safety plugs are designed to reduce the risk of electrocution through objects being pushed into an outlet. If power boards are in use safety plugs should be installed in unused points as well. This is even more important in power boards devoid of individual switches as all points will be active as soon as the power board is turned on.

Maintenance

Are all light fittings, switches and power points clean and in good repair (i.e. not cracked, lose or fixed to walls properly)?

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Cracked, lose fitting power points or switches not fixed to walls properly can put members at risk of electrocution when used. It can also be a fire hazard.

Are power boards used instead of household double adaptors?

Are power boards are in use are they limited to one board per outlet?

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Overloading a power board or outlet is a fire risk. If more than one power board is attached to an outlet it is advisable to install additional outlets.

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Double adaptors or piggyback plugs create a potential hazard as leads and adaptors can become partially dislodged leaving a small gap for another metal object to make contact with the pins. They are actually prohibited in some workplaces by Electrical Safety Regulation 2002. Power board should be used instead.

Are all power boards and extension leads in good condition (i.e. no frayed or wires exposed)?

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Faulty cords or extension leads can put members at risk of electrocution and can also be a fire hazard.

Are appliances operating correctly and well maintained (i.e. fridges, microwaves)?

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It is important to ensure that all appliances are in good working order and hygienically maintained to ensure members are not put at risk of injury or illness by using them.

Ventilation and Amenities

Ventilation

Are church members satisfied with the building ventilation (i.e. thermal comfort and air quality)?

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Hazardous materials have a habit of escaping into the workplace air. Ventilation is all about maintaining the quality of air in the workplace to a level that is fit to breath. In addition, varying temperatures can cause a member’s body to experience stress such as heat stress in hot weather or lowering of blood pressure or a decreased heart rate in cold weather.

Are any areas of the property air-conditioned?

Are filters and vents of the air-conditioning system cleaned regularly?

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If not regularly cleaned, contaminants and dust particles escape into the workplace air can cause illness or may exacerbate existing medical conditions (such as asthma). Failing to clean the filters and vents can also result in a decline of the system’s effectiveness and increased power costs.

Amenities

Are property amenities hygienically cleaned (i.e. kitchen, toilets and showers)?

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It is important to keep amenities hygienically cleaned. It ensures a state of well-being and prevents exposure to illness.

Is hand sanitizer or liquid soap provided?

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Regular washing of hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. It is your responsibility to provide users of your facilities with the appropriate items to ensure effective hand washing.

Liquid soap must be provided in all toilet facilities. If soap and water cannot be provided then hand sanitizer must be made available.

Are electric dryers or paper towels provided?

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A critical component in effective hand washing is ensuring hands are dried. Paper towels provide the lowest risk of cross-contamination. Hot air driers can be used however they are not considered to be quite as effective as paper towels.

Cloth drying towels must not be used unless they are a single use towel.

First Aid & Emergency Procedures

First Aid

Is there a first aid kit and is it accessible to all members?

Are contents of the first aid kit appropriate for the property and regularly checked and maintained?

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A risk assessment should be conducted to determine the size of the first aid kit. The kit should be checked annually to re-stock any used items or discard items out of their use by date.

Are first aid kits appropriately labelled (i.e. marked with a white cross and green background)?

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First aid kits should be clearly marked with a white cross on a green background and a sign of the same nature fixed to the cupboard or door to identify where the kit is stored.

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It is a requirement for properties to have a fully stocked first aid kit on the premises to provide initial medical treatment to a member in the event of an injury.


Do you have designated first aid officers and are their details kept with the first aid kits?

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It is essential to the provision of a safe environment that qualified first aid officers have been identified and can take charge should the need ever arise. Listing your first aiders in the first aid kit will assist in ensuring the best people are assisting.

Emergency Procedures

Are fire exits clearly marked, easily identifiable and free from obstructions?

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Fire exits are part of an essential emergency response plan. They must be clearly identified and free from obstructions at all times. If they are blocked you are putting members at risk.

Are there fire extinguishing appliances in each building?

Are all extinguishers and fire hoses easily accessible?

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All fire extinguishers and hoses (if applicable) must be easily accessible and free from obstruction in case of fire.

Have extinguishers, hose reels and fire blankets been serviced in the past 6 months?

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You must ensure that all fire extinguishers are bi-annually tested, maintained and serviced by a competent person.

Are there illuminated exits signs or emergency lights installed in your buildings?

Are the exit signs or lighting tested regularly by a competent person?

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Illuminated exits and emergency lighting systems are designed and installed as an essential safety measure. They clearly identify escape routes and providing visibility during power failure. It is essential that the emergency lighting is tested regularly to ensure it will operate if required. If it fails to work you are putting members at risk. Testing needs to be done in accordance with the appropriate standards (AS2293) by a licensed technician.

Are exit signs in place above all doors?

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Exit signs are installed as an essential safety measure. They clearly identify escape routes. It is essential that your exit signage is reviewed to ensure it is appropriate for your areas of ministry. If there are regular evening meetings in your buildings then consideration should be given to installing emergency lighting of some description.

Has a fire and evacuation plan been developed for the property?

Has the fire and evacuation plan been reviewed in the past 12 months?

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As the occupier of a building in Queensland, you have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of any person in that building in the event of a fire or hazardous material emergency. A fire and evacuation plan is designed to assist you in managing your compliance with the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 and the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008.

Are evacuation diagrams clearly displayed in each building?

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Evacuation diagrams assist in the safe evacuation from a building. They should be displayed, generally in the vicinity of the exits, in each building. Information regarding the evacuation procedures should be provided to all users of the property.

Are workers (paid and volunteer) trained in the evacuation procedures?

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All workers need to conversant with the evacuation procedures. The Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 requires workers to be trained within 2 days of taking on a role and then given refresher training every 12 months.

Are workers (paid and volunteer) trained in how to use the fire-fighting equipment and alarms?

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All workers need to understand how to use the fire-fighting equipment. The Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 requires workers to be trained within 30 days of taking on a role and then given refresher training every 2 years.

Has a fire drill been conducted in the past year?

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Fire drills ensure workers and members are familiar with the procedure for evacuating and enable Fire Wardens to identify areas where the evacuation procedures may need to be refined. The Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 requires a fire drill to be conducted with an appropriate number of persons every 12 months.

Security

Have there been any security issues during the year?

Have measures been taken to prevent further losses from occurring?

What measures have been put in place?

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Security Issues include incidents where property has been stolen, or alternatively when there has only been attempted forced entry.

Physical Security

Is there a burglar alarm installed?

What type of alarm is installed (i.e. local alarm or monitored alarm)?

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A burglar alarm provides an additional level of security. A monitored alarm is going to be more effective than a local alarm as someone is being notified of a break-in. Local alarms may work if your neighbours are looking out for your property.

Is there security lighting in place and are there lights on throughout the night?

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Security lighting is an effective form of protection for most buildings. In addition to confirming whether there is security lighting in place please include details of the type of lighting in the additional comments field.

Are there key operated deadlocks on all external doors?

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Standard door fittings provide limited protection against break-in. Deadlocks or patio bolts provide increased protection. In some regions underwriters expect homeowners to have deadlocks fitted before they will provide insurance cover. If your congregation has been affected by burglaries, or break-in attempts, or incidents of this nature are common in your neighbourhood deadlocks should be installed.

Have key operated window locks or security screens been installed?

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Window locks or security screens provide increased protection against break-in. If your congregation has been affected by break-ins or attempted break-ins additional window protection should be installed.

Is the property fenced and capable of restricting vehicle access when the buildings are not occupied?

Are the gates closed when the property is unoccupied?

Security Management

Have you introduced a security master key system which prevents people from copying a key without written approval from the congregation?

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A master key system means that people requiring access to your buildings can do so with just one key that will only open areas of the property that they are permitted to utilise. The system will generally include one or two master keys that enable holders to access all areas of the property and a range of different level keys that may open an individual door to a variety of doors necessary for the key holder to perform their tasks.

An additional benefit of a security key system is that a key cannot normally be copied without the written approval of designated persons within the congregation. A system such as this used in conjunction with a key register will reduce the potential for unauthorised copying of keys to take place ensuring you can more effectively manage people's comings and goings from your buildings.

Is there a key register in place?

Has the key register been reviewed in the past 12 months?

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Managing the number of keys to your property that are in circulation assists in improving the security of your buildings. A key register enables you to quickly identify who holds keys to the buildings. The register should be reviewed regularly and keys returned by people who no longer require regular access as part of their role within your congregation.

Do security patrols take place?

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Security patrols are a good way of showing that your church is being watched. A security patrol will visit your site in a regular basis to check all entry points. It is important that the security visits are not predictable. This makes it even harder for potential intruders to monitor the timing and avoid detection.
Alternatives to engaging a contractor to visit the property include asking your neighbours to keep a watchful eye on your property or to develop a roster from within the congregation of people that can take an active interest in the property when it is unattended. This may be as simple as having someone drive through the car park on their way to or from work.

Protection of Contents

Are computer, multimedia equipment and musical instruments secured?

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Valuable portable goods, where practicable, should be kept in a special room, or enclosure that can only be accessed by authorised persons. Musical instruments (apart from pianos and organs – heavy instruments) should not be left in worship areas during the week, or between services.

Repeat thefts are very common, in particular theft of audio and visual equipment. In one insurance year, three Uniting Church congregations had their data projectors stolen on more than one occasion.

Do workers (paid and volunteer) take their equipment home after use?

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The Insurance provides cover for property which you are legally responsible or for which you have assumed responsibility to insure prior to the loss or damage. Consequently, Personal Property used or left on premises is not covered under this policy unless you could be held legally liable. In most circumstances this would be considered highly unlikely.

There may be situations where you believe you have a moral obligation to cover other people’s property. This may include musical or electronic equipment on loan. In these circumstances the owner/s should be informed accordingly (preferably in writing) and the replacement value of the property included as an item on your policy (an extra premium will be required to include this cover).

The personal property of employees is covered under the policy up to a limit of $10,000 for any one employee. It is the responsibility of employees including clergy to insure their own belongings under their private Contents Insurance policy. The insurance cover in place is designed to provide a “safety net” cover in case the employee’s personal insurance does not respond. If this limit is likely to be exceeded and employees have to rely on the church policy to indemnify them, special provisions need to be made and the sum insured increased accordingly.

Are your computer systems regularly backed up and backups kept off site?

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It is essential that regular computer data is backed up regularly to ensure the data is not lost due to computer malfunction or loss of the machine. Back-ups need to be stored off-site to ensure that in the event of a major hazard such as a fire you still have access to the back-ups.

Child Safety

Do you have a playground?

Playground

Is the playground fenced?

If the playground shaded?

Does the playground contain a sandpit?

Is the sandpit covered when not in use?

Is the playground checked by the property committee every month?

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Playgrounds and play equipment can cause very serious injuries if they are not maintained in a safe condition. A playground needs to be checked and maintained regularly to ensure the health and safety of all children who use them. Failing to implement a maintenance program for your playground may be endangering your littlest members. As a minimum a monthly maintenance inspection of the playground should take place. This inspection should result in a written plan of action to address hazards and defects that may be observed. The monthly inspection should be complimented by a comprehensive annual audit that incorporates a plan of action including time frames to address each specific issue or hazard identified.

Is the playground checked before each use?

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It is important that your playground is checked regularly to ensure it remains a safe place for your children.

Daily inspections should be carried out to ensure the equipment is in good condition. If your playground is not used every day then as a minimum the playground must be checked before each use. If a hazard is noted within the playground the equipment needs to be removed or cordoned off until it can be repaired. All repairs or replacements must take place as soon as practicable and repairs should be documented and carried out by appropriately qualified tradesmen.

It is recommended that a checklist is developed to ensure that important items are not overlooked.

Kitchen

Is the kitchen a child-free zone?

Do all cupboards and drawers that store sharp and hazardous materials (i.e. cutlery, glass, and plastic bags) have child resistant catches?

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It is important to take whatever precautions possible to reduce the risk of children harming themselves by inadvertently accessing items that can be dangerous to young people.

Are electrical and gas appliances inaccessible to children?

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All appliances should be locked away when not in use. What measures have been taken to keep children away from the appliances?

Are all sources of hot and boiling water inaccessible to children?

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How is tea and coffee supplied to your attendees? Do people help themselves or are they served? If urns are accessible to everyone are they out of reach of children and set on fixed shelves or cabinets. Avoid placing an urn or kettle on a table that children are also accessing.

Are all chemicals, fuels and hazardous substances securely stored?

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All chemicals, fuels and hazardous substances needs to be locked away after use. Areas where this can sometimes be overlooked include under the sink in the kitchen (detergents and insecticides), amenities (cleaning products) and vestries (Brasso, oils and cleaning products).

Please note that this checklist is a hypothetical example and provides basic information only. It is not intended to take the place of, among other things, workplace, health and safety advice; medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; or other applicable laws. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such checklist is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.