Common Cemetery Monument Safety Standards

Common Cemetery Monument Safety Standards
6 min read

Cemeteries and graveyards are places of remembrance and respect for the deceased. They are also places of cultural and historical significance, as they contain monuments that reflect the beliefs, styles, and tastes of different generations. 

However, these monuments are exposed to various environmental and human factors that can cause deterioration, damage, or instability. Therefore, it is important to ensure that cemetery monuments are designed, constructed, installed, and maintained according to certain safety standards.

This blog post will provide an overview of some of the common cemetery monument safety standards that a monument company like Summit Memorials follow and why they are important.

Types Of Cemetery Monuments

Cemetery monuments can vary in size, shape, material, and design. Some of the main types of monuments are:

  • Marker Stones: These are simple stones that mark the head and/or foot of the grave. They usually have minimal decoration and information.
  • Headstones: These are upright stones that have inscriptions and motifs on the front and/or back. They often have religious or symbolic meanings.
  • Ledger Slabs: These are large flat stones that cover the entire grave. They may have curved body stones that resemble a grave mound.
  • Tomb Chests: These are rectangular hollow structures that have side panels fixed with metal cramps or brick core walls. They may have inscriptions or carvings on the panels.
  • Table Tombs: These are similar to tomb chests, but they have legs or columns that support the top slab. They may have ornamental features on the legs or columns.
  • Mausolea: These are the grandest monuments, as they are small buildings that house the remains of an individual or a family. They may have elaborate decoration inside and outside.
  • Sculpture: These are artistic representations of death and mourning, such as crosses, obelisks, broken columns, angels, and weeping women.

Materials Used For Cemetery Monuments

Cemetery monuments can be made of various materials, depending on the availability, cost, and preference of the makers and owners. 

Some of the common materials used for cemetery monuments are:

  • Stones: These include limestones, sandstones, granites, marbles, and slates. Stones are durable and versatile, but they can also be affected by weathering, erosion, cracking, staining, and biological growth.
  • Metals: These include iron, bronze, and lead. Metals are often used for cramps, dowels, fixings, plaques, or ornaments. Metals can corrode, rust, or oxidize over time, causing discoloration, expansion, or weakening.
  • Other Materials: These include terracotta, artificial stones, and wood. These materials are less common and less durable than stones and metals, and they can be damaged by moisture, insects, fungi, or vandalism.

Deterioration Of Cemetery Monuments

Cemetery monuments are subject to various factors that can cause deterioration over time. Some of the common challenges involved in cemetery monument repair and maintenance are:

Environmental Conditions

These include temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, sunlight, pollution, and soil. These factors can affect the physical and chemical properties of the materials, causing expansion, contraction, dissolution, or reaction.

Biological Agents

These include plants, animals, fungi, algae, lichens, and bacteria. These agents can grow on or in the materials, causing discoloration, erosion, or decay.

Human Actions

These include vandalism, theft, graffiti, cleaning, repairs, or alterations. These actions can damage the materials, structures, or designs of the monuments, causing loss, breakage, or distortion.

Structural Problems Of Cemetery Monuments

One of the major safety concerns of cemetery monuments is their structural stability. Due to the deterioration factors mentioned above, cemetery monuments can become unstable, loose, or leaning, posing a risk of falling or collapsing. This can cause injury or death to visitors, workers, or nearby monuments. 

Some of the common structural problems of cemetery monuments are:

Foundation Failure

This occurs when the base or foundation of the monument sinks, shifts, or cracks, causing the monument to tilt or sink. This can be caused by soil erosion, subsidence, frost heave, or poor installation.

Joint Failure

This occurs when the joints or connections between the parts of the monument fail, causing the parts to separate or detach. This can be caused by metal corrosion, stone cracking, or inadequate fixings.

Material Failure

This occurs when the material of the monument fails, causing the monument to crack, break, or crumble. This can be caused by weathering, erosion, or vandalism.

Inappropriate Repairs, Cleaning, And Coatings Of Cemetery Monuments

Another safety concern of cemetery monuments is the inappropriate or unprofessional repairs, cleaning, or coatings that are done to them. These actions can cause more harm than good, as they can damage the materials, structures, or designs of the monuments, or introduce new problems. 


These include using incompatible or unsuitable materials, methods, or tools to fix or restore the monuments. For example, using cement, epoxy, or metal pins to repair stone cracks, or using nails, screws, or wires to attach parts.


These include using harsh or abrasive chemicals, methods, or tools to clean or remove dirt, stains, or growths from the monuments. For example, using acid, bleach, or pressure washing to clean stone surfaces, or using wire brushes, scrapers, or sandpaper to remove lichens or graffiti.


These include applying paints, varnishes, sealants, or other substances to the monuments to enhance or protect their appearance. For example, applying oil, wax, or lacquer to stone surfaces, or applying gold, silver, or copper leaf to metal ornaments.


Cemetery monuments are important cultural and historical assets that need to be protected and maintained. They are also potential safety hazards that need to be prevented and addressed. By following the common cemetery monument safety standards, we can ensure that these monuments are safe, stable, and respectful for the present and future generations.


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