Prepare burial plots and dig graves

Business Sectors (Suites): Horticulture
Developed by: Lantra
Approved on: 31 Jan 2019


This standard is for those involved in preparing burial plots and digging graves.  This will involve selecting and preparing the equipment you need to dig graves and carrying out excavation in preparation for burial.

All operations must be carried out with due regard to relevant legislation and industry codes of practice.

If you are working with machinery you should be trained and hold current certification where required in line with relevant legislation.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

  1. locate the burial plots using the information provided
  2. assess the risks associated with the burial site and digging graves
  3. wear suitable clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  4. select relevant tools and equipment for the type of burial plots and soil conditions
  5. prepare, use and maintain the required tools and equipment safely and correctly
  6. mark and set out the burial plot in accordance with specifications
  7. excavate the ground and remove excess soil in accordance with specifications
  8. adhere to safe working practices when digging graves
  9. carry out work in a manner which prevents damage to the surrounding area
  10. keep the grave site tidy and safe and your equipment secure when unattended
  11. complete work in good time for the burial
  12. carry out your work in accordance with relevant environmental and health and safety legislation, risk assessment requirements, codes of practice and organisational policies

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. how to locate burial plots
  2. how to identify hazards and assess risks when digging graves
  3. the type of clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) suitable for the activity
  4. how to select tools and equipment relevant to the types of burial plots and soil conditions
  5. how to prepare, use and maintain tools and equipment used for excavation of ground and removal of excess soil safely and correctly
  6. the importance of preparing burial plots and diggings graves in accordance with specifications
  7. regulations and codes of practice relating to the preparation of burial plots and digging graves
  8. how to mark and set out the burial plot according to specifications
  9. the purpose and use of different types of shoring when digging graves
  10. how to position and secure escape ladders when digging graves
  11. the role and duties of the banks person when digging graves
  12. why it is important to leave the grave site in a tidy and safe condition and secure equipment when unattended
  13. your responsibilities under relevant environmental and health and safety legislation, codes of practice and organisational  policies


A.       locate the burial plot using the following methods:

  1. plans 
  2. grave numbers 
  3. measuring

B.       prepare both of the following types of burial plots:

  1. open 
  2. with obstructions

C.       select the following working methods when digging graves:

  1. by hand
  2. using mechanical equipment

D.       select and use the following types of tools and equipment for digging graves:

  1. measuring 
  2. digging
  3. safety
  4. protective clothing

E.       prepare for and excavate the following types of burial plots:

  1. new 
  2. reopened

F.       deal with the following types of soil conditions when digging graves:

  1. wet 
  2. dry
  3. clay
  4. sand/shingle
  5. made-up ground

Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Soil conditions:

  • wet
  • dry
  • clay
  • sand/shingle
  • made up ground


  • drawings
  • schedules
  • method statements
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • manufacturers' guidelines
  • organisational policies

Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

31 Jan 2024





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Grave Digger

SOC Code



soil; excavate; burials; banks person; shoring