For funeral directors and funeral services in Scotland, regulations changed this month - and now, weighing is an important part of the regulations.
The Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2019 are superseding the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 1935.
The new regulations request a combined weight of the coffin and the deceased - with guidance from the National Association of Funeral Directors stating: funeral directors operating in Scotland should take steps to obtain access to suitable weighing equipment as soon as possible.
But what do the regulations say, and how does this affect funeral directors? This blog post can help.
What are the weighing regulations for funeral directors?
Part of the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2019 includes the introduction to a new cremation form - Form A1 - which provides reference to weighing.
According to guidance by the National Association of Funeral Directors, “Section 5 of form A1 includes a space for the funeral director to provide details of the combined weight of the coffin and the deceased. This information was not captured on the previous form and many funeral directors do not currently have the facilities necessary to accurately provide this information.”
Guidance has been issued for funeral directors - which can be downloaded below - which details how this issue should be dealt with in the first six months of the new application forms being in use.
However, it states “During that time, funeral directors should develop procedures and processes to enable them to complete the weight section of the Form A1.”
How should Form A1 be completed based on access to suitable weighing equipment
According to the National Association of Funeral Directors’ guidance:
If the deceased person (in their coffin) is in your care prior to the cremation form being sent to the cremation authority, you should fill in the ‘combined weight’ section of Form A1 as accurately as possible.
If the deceased person (in their coffin) is not in your care prior to the cremation form being sent to the cremation authority, you should write the words “information to follow” on the form before submitting it to the cremation authority. You should then provide the accurate weight information as soon as practicable and in advance of the day of the cremation, preferably via email.
Suitable scales for funeral directors can be found at the end of this blog post.
What if you don’t have access to suitable weighing equipment in the short term?
The guidance states: It is recommended that funeral directors operating in Scotland should take steps to obtain access to suitable weighing equipment as soon as possible.
However, in the event that suitable weighing equipment is not available in the short term, an estimated weight should be provided. This can be obtained provided that:
- the deceased person is in your care prior to the cremation form being sent to the cremation authority;
- you are able to provide a useful estimate based on the information available to you; and
- you are able to get the information from the client (considering the likelihood of causing upset to your client).
The guidance states:
When providing an estimated weight, it is important that the fact that it is an estimation rather than an accurate reflection of the combined weight is made clear. It is recommended that the funeral director writes the words “estimated weight” next to the estimated figure.
If the body is not in your care at the time of submitting the application form, and no information is available from the family, hospital mortuary or care home it is not recommended that you provide an estimated weight on the form. The funeral director should simply write the words “information to follow” on the form, unless they feel they can provide any further information that may assist the cremation authority. An estimated weight should then be provided as soon as possible after the form has been submitted (and in any case, before the planned cremation date).
If it becomes clear at any point that the deceased person is particularly heavy (e.g. above 20 stones/125 Kg), the cremation authority should be updated as soon as possible, to ensure they can make any necessary arrangements.
How is the new regulation affecting funeral directors?
Marsden spoke to James Blackburn from Scotmid Funerals to establish how the changes will affect individual funeral directors.
“The change is a new application form, which we will fill out with the client and concerns a new question on it about weight,” James said.
“The change has been put in place by the Scottish Government to assist the crematorium in the manual handling of the deceased. The person’s weight determines the operation at the crematorium.
“There are about 55,000 funerals per year in Scotland and the change will mean all deceased and coffins in Scotland will have to be weighed.
“The client will assist the funeral director with the form and the information is sent on to the crematorium.
“The regulation only applies to Scotland, but will affect 150-200 funeral directors.
“When we were aware of the change we contacted Marsden to see what they could do, and opted for the M-650. As a Class III Approved scale it provides high certification - and will future-proof us if there is a requirement for the scales used to be Class III in future.”
Tim Purves from William Purves Funeral Directors added, “The size of the person influences how and when the cremation takes place.
“We ordered the M-610 scale as this would be perfect for use with a bier (the trolley that the coffin sits on), as it can be wheeled onto the scales.
“A lot of our premises have limited space, meaning the M-610 is perfect. These scales are portable and don’t have to be left in situ when not in use.”
Which scales are suitable for funeral directors?
Whilst the new regulations do not specify that Trade Approved (Class III Approved) weighing scales should be used, ‘suitable weighing equipment’ is advised and we would recommend using approved scales. Here are three suggested weighing scales for Funeral Directors.
Marsden M-650: The Marsden M-650 is a Class III wheelchair scale. Its wide weighing platform makes it suitable for trolleys, and the ramps feature a gentle incline. We recommend checking dimensions before you buy to ensure the size meets your needs.
Marsden M-610: The M-610 is an approved wheelchair beam scale. The beauty of weigh beams is that they can be position the desired distance apart to weigh trolleys of any size. It has a 300kg capacity and accuracy to 100g.
Marsden M-925: This Class III Approved platform scale is fitted with ramps, perfect for loading a bier onto the scale. A choice of different platform sizes are available, as well as capacities. It can also be supplied with a printer for keeping a record of the weight.
For more information on any of the scales in our range, call 01709 364296, contact us here or speak to us on our web chat facility.