With Christmas fast approaching, you might start hearing the office scrooge harping on about ‘elf and safety. Don’t hang Christmas decorations, don’t clear the snow, it seems like you can’t do anything without getting in trouble with the HSE elves.
The truth is that each year, health and safety is wrongly cited in the run up to Christmas as the reason why you might be limited in the way you express your holiday cheer, and in reality a lot of what you hear is total nonsense.
We take a look at some of the most popular ‘elf and safety myths that pop up around this time of year, so the next time you hear them used as an excuse, you’ll know the real story!
One of the most common health and safety myths we hear each year is that workers have been banned from putting up Christmas decorations in the office, or that decorations can only be hung by a ‘qualified’ person.
In 2006, the Royal Bank of Scotland ‘banned’ staff in its City office from putting up Christmas decorations because it could cause fire or injury.
The bank sent a memo to staff stating that: “On no account should anyone stand on desks or chairs and attempt to hang decorations themselves, in case of injury. Please remember not to put items on or around your PC screens as this is can be a serious fire hazard.”
Staff were told to book an engineer who would hang the decorations on the ceiling for them.
Most sensible companies provide staff with suitable step ladders to put up decorations rather than expecting them to balance precariously on wheeled office chairs. Health and safety is about protecting people from real risks, so if you want to hang decorations in your office, go ahead, just make sure you have the correct equipment!
Other strange ‘elf and safety myths that pop up around Christmas time include:
1. Indoor Christmas lights need a portable appliance test (PAT) every year
2. You can’t throw out sweets at pantos
3. Santa needs a seatbelt in his sleigh
4. Second hand toys can’t be donated for ‘health and safety’ reasons
5. Traditional shopping centre Christmas trees scaled back or replaced by artificial alternatives
6. Seats removed from shops – despite weary Christmas shoppers wanting to rest their feet
7. Carol singers are a health and safety risk
8. Children are banned from throwing snowballs
9. If you clear snow away from outside your business or home you are likely to get sued
10. Health and safety prevents people putting coins in Christmas puddings
All of the above myths are just that, so when the ‘elf and safety scrooge comes knocking, you’ll know what to say!