By Jason Godfrey, General Manager, Safesite Ltd
HSE has compiled a list of the top twelve festive myths surrounding health and safety, together with the real HSE position on the issue.
Unfortunately health and safety still appears to suffer from negative press. Most of the time this is down to people misinterpreting regulations, or simply using health and safety legislation as an excuse for not doing something.
The press love to report on cases such as a local pub saying it couldn’t replace a fried egg with scrambled as they can’t use a microwave due to health and safety. Attention grabbing headlines refer to ‘elf n safety’ gone mad, but what isn’t explained is the truth. In this case the company concerned didn’t actually serve scrambled eggs because it has a centrally-determined menu. Instead of explaining this, health and safety was given as the excuse.
With only a week to go until Christmas Day, the HSE has compiled a list of the top twelve festive myths surrounding health and safety that have been cited over the festive period.
Christmas decorations are banned
- Workers are banned from putting up Christmas decorations in the office
- Indoor Christmas lights need a portable appliance test (PAT) every year
- You can’t throw out sweets at pantos
- Santa needs a seatbelt in his sleigh
- Second hand toys can’t be donated for ‘health and safety’ reasons
- Traditional shopping centre Christmas trees scaled back or replaced by artificial alternatives
- Seats removed from shops – despite weary Christmas shoppers wanting to rest their feet
- Carol singers are a health and safety risk
- Children are banned from throwing snowballs
- If you clear snow away from outside your business or home you are likely to get sued
- Health and safety prevents people putting coins in Christmas puddings
- Elf n Safety ruins Christmas!
Throwing snowballs banned
While we may laugh at some of these, it’s important to remember that health and safety is about protecting people from life and health threatening risks and shouldn’t be used as an excuse or as a smokescreen by those who don’t fully understand the law.
Let’s all work to make 2016 the year that people start to take health and safety seriously.