How bell ringers are assessing risk

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has considered the general and specific risks associated with the transmission of the Coronavirus so that your bells can be rung again. This guidance note has been written to explain Incumbents and Churchwardens how bell ringers are assessing the risk of ringing bells to make it as safe as possible and recommence ringing for services again.

These notes are broadly applicable to the ringing of all bells (except clock bells) – i.e. ringing of one bell, a set of bells rung by one person, or a ring of bells rung by a group of ringers.

This recognises the particular risks of bellringing which are that:

  • Groups of ringers ring close together in a circle
  • Some ringing rooms are small and with little ventilation
  • Some ringing rooms are up narrow staircases
  • We touch lots of things that others touch in the course of ringing
  • Many ringers are in higher risk groups, as are other church users

Bell ringers are following the Health and Safety Executive’s Five steps to risk assessment.

  1. Identify the hazards.
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how.
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.
  4. Record your findings and implement them.
  5. Review your risk assessment and update if necessary.

The Churchwardens and Steeplekeeper will have undertaken checks to ensure the bells are safe to ring following the period of silence.

The Tower Captain has considered how the bells can be rung while:

  • Maintaining a safe distance between adjacent ringers
  • Observing strict hand hygiene
  • Limiting the number of ringers in the tower and the frequency of ringing to 15 minutes
  • Generally not having extra people in the tower who aren’t ringing
  • Keeping a record of who has attending each ringing session in case a ringer subsequently contracts COVID and fellow ringers need to be traced

Individual ringers will be fully briefed on what to do by the Tower Captain on specific actions and precautions they need to take to keep themselves and their fellow ringers and other church users safe.

Ringing will be limited to 15 minutes unless all your bellringers are members of the same family or support bubble.

Conflicting guidance
We are told that in the case of any conflicting guidance at National, Diocesan or parish level, the guidance on the Church of England Coronavirus website is that authorised by the House of Bishops.

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