Headstone trip risk 'over the top'

WORKPLACE health and safety guidelines that led the Gympie Cemetery Trust to notify families about its intentions to lower headstones are “over the top”, Gympie residents say.

The Cemetery Trust in the past allowed the use of a 50mm granite base for some grave markers in the cemetery lawn sections, but in October 2008 new guidelines were introduced to reduce the approved base size to 10mm.

The reason, they say, is because a 50mm base is a trip hazard.

Now the trust has told some families they need to set existing 50mm bases into the cemetery-provided concrete base, for safety reasons, at no cost to the families involved.

When The Gympie Times hit the street yesterday to see what people thought of the issue, some residents said it was a bit of over regulation.

Others said it should be up to the families to let the trust move the headstones.

Gympie Cemetery supervisor Lee Selby said it was the trust’s duty of care to make sure the cemetery was safe for everyone.

He said one of the worst case scenarios could see a pall bearer carrying a coffin over an existing headstone slip off the edge of one of the bases and drop a coffin.

Mr Selby said the same rule didn’t apply in the monumental sections of the cemetery because there were not many spaces left, but there were hazards in those sections also.

The ruling to not allow 50mm bases was introduced after Mr Selby started at the cemetery in 2008.

He thought the 50mm bases were a danger and took the issue to the trust.

“It’s something we have to do,” he said.

“We don’t want to do it, we don’t like distressing people.”

Residents contacted Member for Gympie David Gibson yesterday, seeking help to establish a petition to get the Cemetery Trust to review its decision.

“Across the state there are various cemeteries with similar granite bases and I’ve not heard of any of them making the same changes as are being proposed by the Gympie Cemetery Trust,” he said.

“I think we need to be sensitive to the relatives of people buried in the cemetery and clearly greater discussion is required with these relatives.

“If workplace health and safety is the reason then I will raise the matter in the Parliament to get the laws changed.

“We need to see a commonsense solution to this issue.”

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