Panel targets ‘daft’ health and safety decisions

Office workers being banned from putting up Christmas decorations and trapeze artists being told to wear hard hats are among a top ten of myths published as part of the launch of a new service to help curb the worst examples of health and safety misuse.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will run the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, which will provide quick advice to businesses and individuals querying the validity of health and safety decisions.

The panel, which was launched on 11 April, will separate decisions that genuinely protect people from real risks from those not required in health and safety law. The panel will be supported by a pool of independent members representing a wide range of interests, including those of small businesses.

Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said: “All too often, jobsworths are the real reason for daft health and safety decisions.

“Common sense is the key to successful health and safety. The Myth Busters Challenge Panel will advise people where they think local authorities, insurance companies or schools have got it wrong.

Judith Hackitt, chair of the HSE and the new panel, said: “Over the years we’ve seen health and safety invoked – wrongly – in defence of some pretty absurd decisions.”

She said that such decisions undermined confidence in the real task of health and safety, which is to manage serious risks to life and limb in Britain’s workplaces.

The HSE’s top ten health and safety myths are listed below.

  1. Children cannot play conkers unless they wear goggles.
  2. Office workers banned from putting up Christmas decorations.
  3. Trapeze artists told to wear hard hats.
  4. Pin the tail on the donkey games deemed a health and safety risk.
  5. Candy floss on a stick banned in case people trip and impale themselves.
  6. Hanging baskets banned in case people bump their heads on them.
  7. Schoolchildren ordered to wear clip on ties in case they are choked by traditional neckwear.
  8. Park benches must be replaced because they are three inches too low.
  9. Flip flops banned from the workplace.
  10. Graduates ordered not to throw their mortar boards in the air.

Link: The Myth Busters Challenge Panel