Organisations are using bogus health and safety excuses to ban legitimate activities, a new taskforce has uncovered.
A panel set up to help the public fight back against jobsworths who make up crackpot safety laws has clocked up 150 cases in its first year.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Chair Judith Hackitt, who heads a team of experts that rules on cases when ‘health and safety’ is suspected of being cited for bogus reasons, has called for those making daft decisions to own up to their real motives.
Among the cases exposed as myths by the panel in 2013 alone were; bars that refuse to pull pints in glasses with handles, toothpicks removed from the table of a restaurant, shredded paper banned from a school fete’s lucky dip stall and a cot bed that could not be made up by a hotel chamber maid.
Another case study involved a party venue who claimed a bubbles machine was banned on health and safety grounds. But after the panel intervened the venue backed down.
“We never cease to be amazed by the cases we consider,” Ms Hackitt said.
“Why on earth do people think that they can get away with banning pint glasses with handles, bubbles at a birthday party, or burgers served anything other than well done, claiming they are a health and safety hazard?
“The reality is that people hide behind health and safety when there are other reasons for what they’re doing – fear of being sued perhaps, or bad customer service. It’s time for them to own up to their real motives.
“The sad fact is that while all this nonsense is being spouted, it overshadows what health and safety is really about – ensuring people return home without injury from their day’s work, every day.
Employment Minister Mark Hoban, who has the Government portfolio for health and safety, said: “Health and safety is there to protect people from serious risks, not to be abused by jobsworths who stop people getting on with their lives.
“Thanks to the panel we’ve already exposed 150 myths and we’ll carry on holding people to account when they give health and safety a bad name.”