Headstone safety is not something that should be taken for granted, even for relatively recent memorials. It is so easy to assume that it is only headstones from the Victorian era that will be laid flat in cemeteries, but that needn’t be the case at all.
One of Sarsfield Memorials recent orders was from a customer who was surprised that their family headstone, which was last removed and replaced in 1994, was easily movable. The customer explained that whilst replacing flowers at the grave, they steadied themselves by putting a hand on top of the headstone, only for it to slide a number of inches across the base. Only the presence of a memorial at the plot to the rear prevented it toppling over.
After contacting Sarsfield Memorials, the customer was advised that prior to the British Standard 8415 being introduced fifteen years ago, there was little regulation for headstone safety. Prior to that, the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) had set themselves certain standards to adhere to, but these were not enforceable by law. Sadly it took the death of a child in 2000 for the government to intervene and regulate the industry. This led to BS8415 in 2005, which has twice been re-evaluated since.
Nowadays, all of Merseyside’s cemeteries will only allow masons to work in them who adhere to the regulations laid out by the Health and a Safety executives inline with BS8415. This offers reassurance to the public that their loved ones memorials will be affixed to a minimum standard. Periodic testing takes place of all headstones, with those that cannot withstand a certain force being laid flat. If this happens, then it is the responsibility of the grave owner to have the memorial re-fixed, not the local authority.
Our recent customer’s experience showed that even more memorials less than twenty years old can be unsafe. This family had only taken ownership of their family grave in the last decade so had assumed it would be properly anchored, but this had turned out not to be the case. However Sarsfield’s were able to affix the headstone to the BS8415 standard for a competitive price, leaving peace of mind that there will be no nasty surprises next time they visit the grave.