DECEASED Scots are being prepared for burial in garages, kitchens and sheds according to an expert.
A professional embalmer claims that current health and safety laws are being flouted on a daily basis – with some bodies even being prepared on old doors.
Jason King, who states he has been in the profession for 24 years, submitted a report to the Scottish Government during a recent consultation on burial and cremation practices.
He claims that many companies “have no ethical conduct” and are not equipped with suitable preparation or embalming rooms.
And he points out that anyone can open a funeral company and call themselves an embalmer without undertaking any training.
In the statement he said: “Currently dead bodies are being embalmed everywhere.
“The following are all true: corridors, garages, sheds, in the person’s house, the funeral director’s kitchen, on stretchers, in coffins, an old door on two trestles, in the viewing room (chapel of rest).
“Although these all break current health and safety laws, it is happening on a daily basis across the country.
“Many companies do have suitable embalming or preparation rooms, some acceptable, a few above and beyond, but many have nothing at all.
“There are companies in the UK who adhere to or go beyond the call of duty. However, there are also many who have no ethical conduct.”
The submission from King also claimed that self-regulation of the industry through membership of funeral trade organisations is not working.
He said: “Laws are very often ignored through ignorance or a notion of being untouchable and the fact no-one really wants to know what goes on, so a blind eye is turned by trade bodies and governing officials.”
Mr King, who is a tutor with the British Institute of Embalmers (BIOE), added that the “Government and the funeral industry is seriously failing to protect the public and the people who choose the caring of the dead as a vocational profession”.
His call for more regulation is backed by Karen Caney, national general secretary of the BIOE.
She said: “There are a lot of embalmers out there in the UK who haven’t qualified through us, so there is no regulation of what they do.
“Anyone can buy a property and open up as a funeral director without formal training.
“It is very easy to have a very nice office upfront, but people don’t always see what is behind that.”
However, the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) – which represents 80% of funeral directors in the UK – refuted any suggestion it was turning a “blind eye” to poor practices.
It said any member of the NAFD was subjected to “regular and rigorous processes” to maintain the highest standards, including bi-annual inspections of mortuary and embalming facilities.
Speaking about the recent consultation, Minister for Public Health maureen Watt said:
“We are considering a range of options, including how the funeral industry might be regulated in the future.”