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revbobuk
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I would be more concerned about the load bearing capacity of the balcony rails they are proposing to support it on.

 

But regardless, there's no specific laws so you need to get them to understand why it is a bad idea.

Edited by timsabre
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It would be very much different if it was a theatre - Places of entertainment have lots of additional safety related issues. Status wise, Churches are considered private, not public. Church goers are considered as guests, and are there by invitation. Churches could throw people out they don't like, but of course won't. Interestingly they are technical considered as private, but used as public spaces. This has been established in the quest in some areas to ban photography. Many shopping centres are private property to which the public are invited and this apparently gave the the right to restrict photography. However, with the rise in street photography the advice now being given to the Police is that people have the right to take photographs in any public space, or (importantly) private space, used by the public. This means that taking pictures on railway property - a common pastime by the train spotters is now actually protected and legal, as is Canary Wharf, where a camera identifies you as a potential terrorist.

 

A bit OT, but it means that churches are simply private space, used by the public and this brings with it as mentioned above, the duty of care. You see some simply terrible lash ups in churches, but if somebody there has the role that carries H&S responsibility, then it's a responsive issue - when something goes wrong. Most installers, with their responsibilities, take the proactive approach and won't do bodges but proper installs where loads are calculated and displayed. The churchwarden will probably use angled 6" nails and hang the truss happily on them.

 

I do quite a few jobs in churches and my most common 'risks' are simply cables and hanging things. I've got pretty good with aircraft style 3mm wire rope. A simple ladder lets me wrap them, pad them to protect the stonework.timber and then hang microphones. I'm happy with any potential failures or incidents, but that's a decision for me.

 

No law I'm aware of says you cannot do what you wish to do, but it's up to you to accept or reject the risk and consequences. Our laws around safety all centre on competence to do things, which kick in with injury. Insurance for this will be tricky as it will be risk based. Your premium would be calculated on you. I've tried a few insurance solutions and one explained it rather well. If you take out a new policy for an event, or a single process or specific job - this is actually bad for you. You are asking for insurance because you believe there is a chance it will be needed, and this puts the price up drastically when viewed by actuaries. So Insurance to install some truss with a heavy projector could be very high because the only reason you are doing it is to protect yourself. Annual insurance to install unspecified equipment for congregation audio-visual support could be cheaper!

 

When I do these kinds of things, I use an engineering company I've worked with loads of times. They visit and determine how it can be done based on the budget, and offer a loading solution. One we did in an old church turned into an arts centre simply involved them welding up some custom built brackets that were attached discretely to suitable places that allowed a 50mm tube to be clamped to the front - we used two chord black painted flat truss and it took them around 30 minutes and no tools to mount it each week. They rated the load at 125Kgs evenly distributed, and stuck some small labels near the clamps. I think the three brackets and the fitting and a nice document saying the limits cost less than £500. The buildings insurance didn't need modification as the install had been done by 'proper' people. Afterwards they actually told me they'd have been happy rating it at 250Kg if I'd asked for that, as the timber was very substantial and anchored in the building stonework. 125Kg was fine for what was normally hanging on it.

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He's said it's a nonconformist chapel which I assume is independent of any church denominations, so there will be no rules from the church side and no venue licensing or anything like that.

 

Non-conformist does not mean independent of regulation, it is usually defined as a Protestant Church which dissents from the established Church of England, hence the Baptist, United Reformed, and Methodist churches fall into this category as well as the "independents".

 

There is oversight by insurers and the denominations of the buildings in most denominations.

 

However liability for any issues will remain with the local managing trustees, e.g. Church Council.

Edited by Paul TC
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Technically you are right but you would normally say "baptist" or "methodist" if it was that, so I would assume it is fairly stand alone.

 

It's a Baptist Church, which still doesn't quite answer all the technical parts of 'who is the trustee of the building', as Baptist churches have a wide variety of different trusts. Practically speaking, the trustee of the building is the local church itself, though the law doesn't see it quite that way. But you don't want to get into all that detail! And the interior is not listed, which is a whole other can of worms. But no, there is no denominational input into what happens to the interior, although the local church would have to explain itself to the insurers, as correctly mentioned above.

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OK - so let's clarify what exactly you're asking...

 

Are you directly associated with the church, and as such being asked do do this as a freebie, or mates-rates job? Or are you loosely associated and being asked to quote for the job of installing the projector?

 

Either way, are you looking for a way to tell the client - in a way that brooks no argument on regulatory or safety grounds - that the idea of using a cheap bit of truss from Fleabay is the wrong way to do the job, and as a result the method that you will NOT consider installing?

 

It does strike me that if you're looking for reasons not to do as they ask (and to be honest, I'd certainly not be doing that job with cheap truss and end-supports) then simply say that. If they're asking you as a local tradesman then they should be taking your word on the matter - and taking your advice on what WOULD be the best and most cost effective solution.

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Conversation?

Them; "I want some cheap truss to save money."

Revbob; " Did you know that LOLER says that operations involving lifting equipment, like truss carrying projectors, must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner?"

Them; "It's good truss and it's cheaper than your fancy lens thingy."

Revbob; "LOLER also requires that all equipment used for lifting is fit for purpose, appropriate for the task, suitably marked and, in many cases, subject to statutory periodic 'thorough examination'."

Them; "You're just being awkward."

Revbob; "Have you checked with the insurance company?"

Them (hopefully); "Buy the bl00dy long throw wotsit and shut up."

Edited by kerry davies
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Perhaps we need to recognise that sometimes, there are two methods to do things. The official, correct, in the know route that involves LOLER, and the other route - the well meaning, jury rigged, best intentioned and totally distanced from professional practice solution that might, or might not be dangerous. However, most of these general knowledge based solutions can be safe when the person doing them is somebody with common sense. Not all bodges are dangerous, many, lacking knowledge, are over engineered and can be perfectly functional and long lasting. I know a theatre where the proscenium wall was built as a later add-on, and is a freestanding wall made of lath and plaster that is effectively freestanding. It's secured to the structure at the top, in the centre, with 2" diameter marine style rope, with many layers of varnish, put there I think in the 1920s, and not visible from the ground. Been like that for nearly a hundred years. I'm sure if a structural engineer saw it, then it would be condemned straight away. As it's stood with no detectable movement for all these years, it's a pretty decent bodge I think.
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I know that you asked about truss, and wanted to avoid it, but I have seen some massive drops done with scarf tube from a high ceiling to get a projector into place. (Unicol style)However one issue can be to find a way to safely access the projector once it's up
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I would be asking the insurance company what they will require not an internet group, even as knowledgeable as we are, ultimately it is them who will dictate if it meets their requirements and if they will pay out in the event of it all going horribly wrong, even for something minor like a bit falling of the projector and hitting one of the congregation on the back of the head, if they didn't know about it and haven't approved it they won't pay out.

 

As others have said there are a number of regulations that this may or may not need to comply to depending on how it's to be used, and by whom, basically if it's a properly designed and engineered structure and installed in accordance with the manufacturer instructions, had a suitable signage displayed showing it's safe working loads and distribution and is periodically inspected in accordance with the manufacturer guidelines then will meet most current UK regulations. And to go back to one of the points in the original post that is not going to be a budget option or something you will find on eBay.

 

Also consider the insurance company will probably want it inspected by one of the assessors annually at the churches expense, and that won't be as part of any regulations other than covering their arse, and the premium will probably be adjusted as well

Edited by ontoprigger
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Would LOLER apply in this case? If the truss is put in position first and the projector is then attached to it I don't think there would be any 'lifting' or 'lowering' operations involved. It's possible that PUWER might apply although this raises the question as to whether the truss and projector are 'work equipment'. Irrespective of liability under these statutory instruments however there is the general duty of care under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 -

"The common duty of care is a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there." Section 2(4)(b) provides a possible defence if the occupier has entrusted the work to an independent contractor and has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the independent contractor is competent to do the job.

 

In this situation, since the consequences of harm if anything goes wrong are easily foreseeable then the 'occupiers' of the building (who may be the church council, pastor, individual elders or anyone who has a degree of control over the building ) would be well advised to ensure that they are satisfied that the job has been done by a competent person or firm who has the necessary experience and/or training to provide assurance that the job has been done properly and safely, both in the choice of equipment used and in the method(s) of attaching or suspending it. This does not mean the job must be done by a 'professional' but does require that the person doing it has shown some experience and/or training together with an appreciation of the risks involved and has demonstrated they have taken steps to mitigate them - eg - providing calculations for the loading on the truss involved based on figures from the manufacturer's load tables and being able to provide re-assurance that the balcony rails are sufficiently strong and/or firmly fixed to ensure that they can take the load involved (this latter may well be a matter of judgement based on experience of having fixed or suspended similar loads in the past since it's highly unlikely that any paperwork will be available to back this up).

I am not a professional but have in the past suspended temporary trussing in a church (working according to the manufacturers load tables) and have recently suspended a small projector in a church (on a substantial pre-existing steel frame). I am happy to justify both of these on the basis of my previous experience, but if the trussing had been required to carry moving heads rather than half a dozen PAR 56 lanterns or the projector had been a big Barco model then I would have declined to do the job. Perhaps that is a measure of the competence of the indiviudual - does the person show an awareness of his/her limitations?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The questions to ask are (as a min).

 

Is the truss suitable for the intended task? Manufacture data/support and loading tables for the centre point load on the intended span.

 

Is the supporting structure for the truss able to support both the load and the truss self weight? Balcony rails may just be 2x4 and plasterboard. Not very strong.

 

Can you secure the truss to the support safely and suitably?

 

If second hand, is the truss still safe for use? An inspeciton by a competent 3rd party (Lloyds Britiah or similar with certification would be prudent).

 

After all that, you may be able to use truss but is this cheaper than doing it properly with a unicol ceiling mount into a solid fixing or similar?

 

Josh

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Folks - I did suspect (and was not disappointed) that I would get a load of advice on how to do or not to do the job. I really was only after legislative guidelines. And I did discover that there is very little that specifically applies to places of worship, because of this odd 'public place but not a public place' issue. But huge thanks to Hilary, who pointed me exactly to what I was after, and armed with that information, and some useful confirmation from the insurers, I was able to steer them in a different direction (we're going with long-throw projector). Sometimes it is helpful to be able to show people why a particular course might be more complex. Thanks for all the help!
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