Ten of the most ridiculous health and safety excuses of 2012 were exposed by a regulator today.
Bans on yo-yos in playgrounds, knives in kitchens and kettles in offices have all been wrongly blamed on workplace safety laws this year.
The misuses of health and safety were spotted by the Health and Safety Executive’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel, which was set up in earlier this year to challenge a stream of silly decisions wrongly blamed on health and safety.
The panel has now responded to its hundredth case – helping the public to challenge unreasonable bans or restrictions and force people to honestly explain the real reason behind their decisions.
Analysis of the cases dealt with so far shows that 38 were down to jobsworths making an excuse for an unpopular decision or simple poor customer service. Almost a quarter of the cases were found to involve over-interpretation of legitimate guidelines, leading to daft decisions being made – probably through fear of being sued.
One sixth of all cases came from people who had been given advice that confused health and safety with other regulations or regulators. A similar amount was down to communication failures when explaining the reasons for a decision.
Employment minister, Mark Hoban, said: “It’s so frustrating when people are stopped from doing perfectly sensible things on the false pretence of health and safety. “The panel has now exploded 100 myths and is helping ordinary people fight back against the jobsworths.”
Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE and the Myth Busters panel, said: “It’s really important that we are all ready to challenge stupid decisions made in the name of health and safety, and that we as the regulator give the public the confidence to do so. “Not only do the jobsworths who make these ridiculous edicts waste time and money, and interfere needlessly with harmless activities, they also undermine our efforts to reduce the number of people made ill, injured or killed by their work.”