Code of Practice for Safety


The aim of the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) is to instruct those who are interested in bell ringing to become proficient in the skill themselves whilst making every effort to protect personal safety and well being particularly when those under instruction are young people or vulnerable adults.

When teaching bellringing ART members use the ART Training Scheme techniques and the Learning the Ropes programme, which allows handling to be taught in a structured and safe way. ART and its members also organise educational and recruitment events.

The purpose of this document is to recommend what should be considered to protect personal safety and to conduct ringing activities to ensure the well-being of those present.

Code of Practice

Those under instruction should:

  • Follow the instructions of their teacher
  • Act responsibly
  • Give details of any medical condition which could affect bell ringing activities
  • Dress appropriately

Ringing teachers should:

  • Make it clear who is in charge
  • Act appropriately
  • Explain what is going to be happen
  • Show the learner the bells and explain how they work
  • Use the ART approach of structured learning
  • Have a flexible approach adapting to the needs and preferences of each learner
  • Observe and give accurate, specific feedback when teaching
  • Ensure that the bells and bell tower are safe for use
  • Have a risk assessment for the tower and the activity in place
  • Obtain a permission to ring form from all learners

Legal requirements

In law an action is possible by any person who has suffered damage, directly or indirectly. The person needs to show negligence determined by the balance of probabilities. Criminal law will be infringed if a deliberate act is committed in breach of any legislation which can be substantiated by evidence ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.


These guidance notes will help explain these recommendations. Following this guidance is not compulsory. You are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. As a member of ART you are expected to follow this guidance.

Health and safety inspectors and other enforcing authorities will seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice.


  1. The ART Training Scheme enables a learner to follow a structured and documented path towards the acquisition of bell ringing skills. If a student follows the Scheme they will learn control skills under the close supervision of a ringing teacher who will ensure that their personal safety is not affected by their actions.
  2. Teaching will only be successful if the student acts appropriately. The teacher will explain at an early stage that a swinging bell has a lot of stored energy which is capable of causing injury if the bell is mishandled. Injuries can occur to those under instruction, to their teacher or to others who happen to be nearby.
  3. Those under instruction should make their teachers aware of any medical condition which could affect ringing activities. There are conditions which might not appear to be significant that could affect ringing such as susceptibility to strobe affects, sudden giddiness or fainting. These conditions would not prevent anyone from learning to ring but teachers would need to take them into consideration to ensure safe progression through certain stages of instruction. Those with physical disabilities have been known to learn to ring quite successfully.
  4. Dress is important. Loose items such as long hair, loose clothing, or accessories can easily become entwined in bell ropes causing serious problems. Long hair should be tied back or put inside clothing. Loose clothing can easily be made safe. All ringers should also check that extending the arms upwards does not indecently reveal areas of the body.


  1. When there are two or more teachers carrying out instruction one of them should assume the role of being in charge. All those present are then aware of who is in charge of ringing activities.
  2. Before starting a course of instruction on bell handling teachers should show the student the bells, demonstrate ringing and describe safety issues and precautions.
  3. Before each instruction session the teacher or teachers should explain to their students what is going to happen and how they will progress through their training. This will ensure that they are fully aware of what is planned for the session.
  4. Teachers following the training scheme should be aware that if they act appropriately and professionally, they will instil a sense of confidence in their students further improving the chance of instructing students in bell ringing without incident. If a teacher wants to demonstrate an unsafe practice for the purposes of instruction the demonstration should be carried out with careful thought as to what might go wrong and appropriate precautions taken. For example, by asking others to stop ringing for a moment and standing in safe positions.
  5. The teacher in charge of any training session should ensure that the tower and bells are safe for use and there should be a current Risk Assessment in place. Obviously he or she cannot carry out a full tower survey or inspection of the bells and their fittings before each training session. He therefore relies on relevant information being passed on from the Tower Leader or Steeple Keeper. This is the system used by the whole exercise but if there is any doubt an inspection will be necessary.
  6. Teachers should ensure the well being of their students and themselves. Where children or vulnerable adults are present the safeguarding policies and code of practice must be used. ART Members must disclose their criminal record disclosure form to ART and on request to any other relevant body/person.They should complete safeguarding awareness training to the level required by the CofE.
  7. A Permission to ring consent form should show the name and address of the person under instruction, details of any known allergies and the name and contact details of the parent or carer who can be contacted in the event of any emergency. It is recommended that this information should be sought for all those under instruction or teaching as it will greatly assist those dealing with any emergency. This information should be treated as “medical in confidence” and kept only for the purposes of instruction. It should be destroyed in due course. Any misuse of this information would be a breach of data protection laws.


  • Summon the emergency services without delay
  • Give address or postcode of the site
  • Record name and address of injured person and others present, time and place and any other relevant details including photographs
  • Don’t delay treatment of the injured person
  • Keep in touch with relatives to find out extent of injury, treatment given and length of time spent in hospital
  • Do not discuss responsibility
  • Report accidents to ART, using the ART accident report form, and to premises/location owner
  • Enter in the accident book for the location

Bell ringing is not “employment” unless some kind of payment is being made other than expenses. It is a voluntary activity which should follow the spirit of health and safety guidance given to employed persons. For those involved in voluntary activities only deaths and serious injury accidents need be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK – or if in a Church to the relevant Local Authority. A serious injury accident is one in which the injured person is referred to hospital for treatment for longer than 24 hours. It does not include being kept in for observation. Use the HSE website or telephone the call centre on 0845 300 9923 within 15 days of the event. Use the ART accident report form to gather the necessary information before contacting HSE.

Medical emergency

  • Summon the emergency services without delay
  • No need to pass on details to ART or to HSE – but inform the premises/location owner

Code of Practice History

Last Modified: March 2019

Last Reviewed: July 2020


If you have any questions about this policy or health and safety you are invited to contact the Association at:

Accident Report form

Report accidents to ART using the downloadable form. Use the Accident Report form to gather the necessary information before contacting HSE.

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