Health and Safety Myth Busting
In the 21st century it is common to hear the words “its health and safety gone mad!”. The workplace, public transport, hotels, restaurants and even schools are becoming victims of the so called, stringent health and safety rules imposed by the HSE. However how true are these health and safety rules and are companies and public service providers using the excuse due to cost cutting.
Recently, the HSE has introduced a myth buster where they invite people who have fallen victim to ludicrous health and safety laws to share their stories which the HSE then explain, or in many cases set the record straight. The most notable examples that have emerged include a query about providing children with balloons after a library book event, which were scrapped for unspecified health and safety issues. The HSE’s appropriate yet humorous response simply stated:
“What a lot of hot air! There are no health and safety regulations which stand in the way of children having fun with balloons.”
This example appears to be a simple overreaction however the implication of such ignorance to health and safety creates myths around health and safety laws leading to further confusion.
A more extreme example reported in October 2014 was a customer in a fast food restaurant being refused a coffee when purchasing a child’s meal deal due to an unexplained health and safety issue. It emerged that the meal was actually for the customer himself however the restaurant still refused to serve a coffee with meal.
The HSE panel’s response to this was “The decision to refuse a hot drink as part of a children’s meal deal package was purely commercial and had nothing to do with health and safety – especially since the customer made clear that the drink was for an adult’s consumption not a child. Yet again we see poor customer service and inflexibility hiding behind health and safety as a convenient catch all excuse.”
Although these two examples are minor inconveniences for the people involved, the accumulation of nearly 500 similar incidents over the last 2 years are damaging the credibility of real and important health and safety regulations. If health and safety is used as excuses to hide business decisions or cover up low staffing levels, the result could actually lead to compensation claims and more bad than good for the firms involved.
 Case 348 – Children not allowed to have balloons – http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/myth-busting/2015/case348-children-not-allowed-to-have-balloons.htm
 Case 328 – Customer not allowed a coffee with a child’s meal deal http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/myth-busting/2014/case328-customer-not-allowed-coffee-with-childs-meal-deal.htm