Healthy living

Myth busters panel to challenge 'daft' health and safety decisions

Myth busters panel to challenge  daft  health and safety decisions Goggles for playing conkers not required by law

A myth-busters panel has been set up by ministers to challenge incorrect or over-zealous health and safety advice given to the public.

People will be able to contact the "Myth Busters Challenge Panel" if they have been stopped from carrying out "sensible activities" on the grounds of health and safety by local authorities, insurance companies or employers.

The panel, chaired by the Health and Safety Executive chair Judith Hackitt, will then investigate the decision and publish its findings on the HSE website.

In the past, the HSE has had to deal with many "ridiculous and baffling myths," none required by health and safety law, it said.

To mark the launch of the new panel, the HSE has published a "top ten worst health and safety myths," where health and safety has been used as an excuse to prevent everyday activities.

These include banning children from playing conkers unless they are wearing goggles, pin the tail on the donkey games being deemed a health and safety risk, schoolchildren being ordered to wear clip on ties in case they are choked by traditional ones and banning candy floss on a stick in case people trip and impale themselves.

Other examples on the list include banning office workers from putting up Christmas decorations or wearing flip flops and graduates being ordered not to throw their mortar boards in the air.

Ms Hackett said: "Over the years we've seen health and safety invoked - wrongly - in defence of some pretty absurd decisions.

"When people hear about children being ordered to wear goggles to play conkers or the dangers of candy floss on a stick it undermines public confidence in the true task of health and safety, which is to manage serious risks to life and limb in Britain's workplaces.

"This is a great opportunity for the public to stand with us against the jobsworths and cynics who are trivializing health and safety to suit their own ends."

Employment minister Chris Grayling said: "All too often jobsworths are the real reason for daft health and safety decisions. We want people who are told they cannot put up bunting or they cannot play conkers to know that there is no basis in law for such rulings.

"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 get it wrong."

This article was published on Wed 11 April 2012

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