You may not realise it, but many of the laughable health & safety stories you read online or in print are simply myths, and often a means of blaming health & safety for poor decisions.
It seems that many companies and individuals use the banner of health & safety to carry out their wishes, which often involve what the individual can and can’t do. This contrasts with the fact health & safety law is designed to keep you safe and out of harm’s way, with requirements being based on well thought-through scenarios and past happenings.
There are numerous health & safety myths out there, but these are some of our favourite ones.
Employees Banned From Wearing Flip Flops To Work
It seems that this myth has done the rounds many times, and health & safety is always to blame apparently. Whether it’s because of the risk of slips, trips and falls, or because of a fear of heavy items being dropped on employees’ feet, this traditional summer footwear is banned from many offices.
While it’s always a good idea to be sensible, and if you work in a place that needs you to wear shoes with good traction then flip flops are not advisable, more often than not a ban is introduced to suit the employer. If the risk is really about heavy files being dropped and breaking toes, for example, then your average work shoe wouldn’t provide much protection either and the files are too heavy to be carried in the first place!
Employers Are Not Allowed To Put Up Christmas Decorations
Again, this myth is more about the employer and less about health & safety law. After all, the majority of organisations manage to put up their own decorations at Christmas time with minimal fuss and without insisting on a “qualified” person, including Live For Work. To ensure this festive task is completed safely, you only need provide the right equipment – for example, secure step ladders instead of chairs on wheels.
School Ties Banned In Case Children Are Choked With Them
The humble tie has been part of school uniforms for millions of children over many, many years, and poses little risk to the safety of the wearer. Apart from the odd occasion, such as during a science class in the laboratory or when machinery is being operated, there is no health & safety reason to replace the school tie with a clip-on tie – especially as the main concern is children choking each other, which is clearly a discipline matter rather than anything to do with health & safety.
Pin The Tail On The Donkey Game Banned
Despite this well-loved game being played by children for countless years, apparently children can no longer be trusted with drawing pins. This sounds far more like the fears of a few parents who are using a convenient excuse to stop this traditional game – and not, in fact, about health & safety.
Children Must Wear Goggles To Play With Conkers
This one really made us laugh! Most adults have a fond memory of playing conkers as a kid, and it doesn’t involve a pair of goggles… This myth stems from a decision made by a headteacher who wanted children to wear safety goggles when playing with conkers, and was followed by other schools in the form of a complete ban or insistence on goggles. However, this is clearly more about a lack of trust in the children, in case they hit each other with the conkers, than it is about health & safety.
Graduates Must Keep Mortar Boards On Their Heads
Graduates are no longer allowed to celebrate in the traditional way, by throwing their mortar boards high in the high at the end of their graduation ceremony, in case they hurt someone on their way down. This is not linked to health & safety, though, and seems more to do with concerns the hats may not be returned in pristine condition.
Health & safety is clearly a convenient banner for some, who like to wave it to justify their poor decisions. However, we don’t like scaremongering and all these myths give health & safety a bad name – when, in reality, the laws exist to genuinely keep people safe.
FACT – since its introduction in 1974, the Health and Safety etc at Work Act has saved more lives than any other single piece of legislation.
That’s what Health and Safety is really all about.
Have you heard any terrible health & safety myths? Let us know and together we can help set the record straight. Contact us now