HR & Management

Busted: The 10 most ridiculous health and safety myths

2 min read

26 March 2015

The Health and Safety Executive has unveiled its list of the most ridiculous health and safety myths, which have often been used as a smokescreen to hide poor customer service.

More than 600 people approached the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Myth Busters Challenge Panel in its first three years after being told “health and safety” stops them from doing something.

The Myth Busters Challenge Panel was formed in April 2012 to look at complaints about advice where the term “health and safety” has been used.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the HSE panel has confirmed that health and safety regulations do not ban the activity and that “health and safety” is being used as a smokescreen, usually to hide poor customer service.

Here is a compilation of the 10 most ridiculous health and safety myths:

  • pork crackling not on the menu at a restaurant because it might splash the chef
  • prams banned from a children’s centre for health and safety reasons
  • dangerous daffodils removed from a village green
  • custard pie fight at a local event cancelled because of health and safety
  • chippy not allowing customers to put salt and vinegar on their fish and chips
  • ban on playing with conkers and yoyos, using skipping ropes, and climbing trees
  • selfie sticks banned in a nightclub
  • sheep and cow droppings in a field stopping a scout group camping
  • school production cancelled because lighting operator had not attended ladder training course
  • loose flowers and pots not allowed on graves
  • office ban on paperclips

A report published this week shows that the HSE has reduced the overall stock of health and safety legislation by 50 per cent. And a legislative package is currently going through Parliament that will enable 1.8 million self-employed jobs to be exempt from health and safety law if they present no risk of harm to others.

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“People have had enough of bizarre health and safety excuses,” comments Work and Pensions Minister Lord Freud.

“The HSE’s myth busters panel is quashing these ridiculous excuses and making sure people know it isn’t the law standing in their way.”