UK & World News

  • 25 August 2014, 15:32

Health And Safety Rules Prompt 300 Complaints

Around 300 complaints have been made to the Health and Safety Executive's 'myth buster' panel about seemingly ridiculous rules.

According to the panel, the health and safety laws have been used to ban donkey rides on beaches and prevent workers wearing open-toed shoes in the summer.

The panel was created by the Government to expose misuse of the 'health and safety' tag.

Ministers feared councils and businesses were preventing what were previously normal activities taking place because they were needlessly worrying about people getting hurt.

Tracey Brown, who wrote 'In The Interests Of Safety' about some of the more absurd rulings, said it was often about those in charge wanting to cover their backs.

She told Sky News: "A lot of these are things that have been dreamt up with no evidence behind them.

"Sometimes it is jobsworths. Sometimes it is people who have been put in charge of things like health and safety, child protection, data protection and these sorts of things.

"They go round looking for things that might sometimes ... lead to a problem. But, really, I think a lot of this, when people say 'In the interests of safety', what they really mean is 'in the interest of covering my back'."

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, staff at a cafe in Bedfordshire refused to put strawberry sauce on a customer's ice cream for supposed health and safety reasons.

A dog show in Cumbriaalso dropped Frisbee catching from its event because it was worried, according to the 'myth buster' panel.

The Government is hoping that by listing the myths, organisations will be embarrassed into removing rules which serve no useful purpose.

Health and Safety minister Mark Harper said: "Enough is enough. It's time we were all allowed to enjoy our summers, rather than have them spoiled by ridiculous, arbitrary and downright unreasonable application of apparent 'health and safety rules'.

"Real health and safety laws exist to protect Britain's workers, and not to be used as a smoke screen by jobsworths who have little knowledge of the law and who want to fob people off with an easy excuse."

HSE chairwoman Judith Hackitt said: "I would urge all bosses to familiarise themselves with health and safety law and properly educate their staff.

"Real health and safety is about protecting people in the workplace from life and health threatening risks - not about refusing to apply suntan lotion, or put sauce on an ice cream."

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