We’ve all heard the ridiculous stories of things being banned or changed under the banner of ‘health and safety’, but are all these things true? Many bizarre changes attributed to health and safety are actually down to personal choice rather than official regulations. HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has set up a Myth Busters Challenge Panel to shed light on which rules are sincere and which are either greatly exaggerated or blatantly untrue.
Below, we’ve compiled five of the best health and safety myths:
1) No Goggles, No Conkers!
Stories of schools banning pupils from playing conkers first hit the news some years back, causing many people to blame health and safety laws for ruining a long-held tradition. However, HSE has no official mandate on playing conkers—they recommend that common sense should prevail, and believe children deliberately hitting each other with conkers is a disciplinary issue, not a health and safety one. While goggles are an effective precaution for those concerned about damage to the eyes during a game, this is a personal choice rather than regulation.
2) Want Christmas Decorations in the Workplace? Yule be Lucky!
HSE often receives complaints about companies refusing to allow their employees to decorate the workplace for the festive season, citing “health and safety risks”. While Christmas decorations may not be to the taste of the management, there is no need for such bans from a regulatory standpoint—employees should exercise caution where step ladders, scissors, glue and other items are required, but good judgement and caution should be relied upon where appropriate.
3) Do Trapeze Artists need Hard Hats?
While this story gained widespread attention when it was first reported way back in 2003, this is one of HSE’s top myths. While it’s certainly ridiculous enough to be believable, there were never any regulations requiring trapeze artists to don hard hats whilst performing. Besides, surely the prospect of a solid hat falling towards the spectators would prove a larger H&S issue?
4) Is the Traditional Tie too Dangerous for Schoolchildren?
Another story involving H&S at school involved claims of the traditional tie being too dangerous for children, with calls for clip-ons to be worn instead. While there’s some likelihood that two children fighting may actually grab each other’s tie or indulge in ‘peanutting’, HSE is keen to point out that, as with the conkers, this is down to discipline rather than specific H&S issues.
5) Flip-flops in the Workplace: Fatal or Fun?
Working in an office during the summer can be horrendous if there are no desk fans or the air-conditioning is on the blink—to stay cool, most people choose to wear shorts, sleeveless tops or even flip-flops. However, there are some reports that health and safety regulations forbid flip-flops on the grounds of them proving risky. Is this true? Of course not. Whatever the footwear, employees need to be sure they have a good grip, and—where possible—floors are kept dry and clean.
At Simply-Docs, we have a wide range of Health & Safety document templates and legal documents available for download, all of which will help you and your employees stay abreast of all (real) relevant health and safety regulations in your specific work environment.