*Clergy seek protection from health and safety laws *
** Unions are calling for health and safety laws to protect clerics from fallen gravestones, loose roof tiles and other hazards of the job, reports Religious Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Wynne-Jones.**
With her no-nonsense approach, the Vicar of Dibley would have taken such 'dangers' as scalding tea or rickety pulpit steps in her stride.
But facing hazards such as crumbling vicarages and fallen gravestones, clergy are no longer prepared to rely solely on the divine for protection.
They are calling for health and safety rights, which have been criticised for encouraging an overly cautious culture, but which they claim would add to their safety in the workplace.
While the clerical life might not seem to warrant such legislation, Unite, a trade union that represents priests, claims that their lives are being put at risk.
To back up its case, the union has compiled a dossier of accidents which have befallen unfortunate clergymen and women in the line of duty: They include:
* Clerics stumbling on fallen gravestones;
* Tiles falling off a roof and causing injury;
* A vicar's wife receiving an electric shock from faulty wiring in a vicarage.
Unless bureaucracy is vastly different in the UK, asking the health & safety cops to get involved is likely to result in a long list of very expensive repairs/alterations to be made to the church or vicarage. They'll be lucky if they're allowed to keep the church open or stay in the vicarage until it''s up to code.