Cemeterian™ Operations and Management

A cemetery is defined as “land that has been set aside for the interment of human remains”. The reality is that cemeteries are also workplaces. Cemetery workers are general ground maintenance workers with priority being the tending to graves and memorial sites. Additional duties include interments, assessing stability of memorials, maintaining cemetery furniture and other related infrastructure. What places them apart from traditional grounds workers is the sensitivity required to provide a compassionate and professional environment. The grieving process must be understood when dealing with persons especially those not wanting to comply with cemetery rules of conduct and proper operation of the cemetery. Additionally, working near heavy equipment, use and care of specialty tools associated with cemetery operations in all types of weather conditions can be high risk if not performed correctly.

Cemetery workers are covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and as such must meet the obligation of “competent person” as defined in the Act. The Act further requires that burial authorities provide a safe workplace and systems of work that will protect the employees, persons attending and officiating at funerals, visitors and any other person that may use a cemetery. The training course has been designed to showcase proven safe work practices and to encourage a process of thought that will assist with accident prevention while ensuring professional conduct by those responsible for daily cemetery operations.

Training will include presentations by industry leaders such as funeral directors, government officials, monument builders and cemetery designers. A site visit will allow participants to gain firsthand experience on general grounds and buildings, operational activities while understanding the role and importance of historical infrastructure such as chapels and mausoleums.

Module One Topics
  • A history of cemeteries
  • Cemetery regulatory compliance – The Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act
  • Understanding Cemetery By-laws – what can and cannot be controlled
  • Cemetery worker safety
  • Reducing risks and hazards
  • Grave preparation protocols – ground layout, opening and closings procedures
  • Marker installations – proper foundation preparation and safe placement
  • Understanding cremation interment options
  • Importance of proper record keeping
  • The significance of compassion and professionalism when dealing with bereaved persons
Module Two Topics
  • Understanding burial options – traditional grave, cremation scattering, placement and storage choices
  • Burial trends – bio-cremation, natural burials etc.
  • Effective communication and documentation systems that control and record information associated with interment
  • Cemetery equipment and safe work practices
  • Reviewing the role and opportunities associated with memorial trees and furniture
  • Dealing with cemetery vandalism
  • Preparing for special events – mother and father’s day preparations
  • Effectively handling on-site complaints
Site Visit (Please bring along appropriate PPE)
Participants will view:
  • Proper grave layout
  • Grave opening, set-up, and closing
  • Proper marker installation
  • Cremation layout
  • Cremation opening, set-up, and closing
  • Columbarium layout
  • Columbarium opening, set-up, and closing
  • Conduct a cemetery risk assessment
  • On-site equipment and speciality tools of the trade

Workplace-Specific Training: A reminder is given to facility supervisory staff that to complete the educational process successful participants must return to work and be provided with workplace-specific training.

Participants attending this course are required to supply and wear their own CSA approved head protection, layered clothing, and appropriate footware suitable for a cemetary work environment. No exceptions.

Instructor: George Barnes, ADA, Director of Parks and Outside Services, City of Cambridge

Upcoming Cemetarian events

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