Press release

Let’s bring common sense back to health and safety

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new myth busting challenge panel is being launched (11 April)  to curb the worst examples of health and safety misuse.

A new myth busting challenge panel is being launched (11 April)  to curb the worst examples of health and safety misuse.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will run the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, which will provide quick advice to people who are subject to ridiculous or disproportionate health and safety decisions.

The panel will separate legitimate decisions to protect people from real risks from those not required in health and safety law.  This will allow decisions by insurance companies, local authorities and employers among others to be contested.

HSE has today published its top ten worst health and safety myths - exactly the sort of decisions the panel would challenge:

  1. Children being banned from playing conkers unless they are wearing goggles 2. Office workers being banned from putting up Christmas decorations 3. Trapeze artists being ordered to wear hard hats 4. Pin the tail on the donkey games being deemed a health and safety risk 5. Candy floss on a stick being banned in case people trip and impale themselves 6. Hanging baskets being banned in case people bump their heads on them 7. Schoolchildren being ordered to wear clip on ties in case they are choked by traditional neckwear 8. Park benches must be replaced because they are three inches too low 9. Flip flops being banned from the workplace 10. Graduates ordered not to throw their mortar boards in the air

Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said:

All too often jobsworths are the real reason for daft health and safety decisions. We want people who are told they cannot put up bunting or they cannot play conkers to know that there is no basis in law for such rulings.

Common sense is the key to successful health and safety. The Myth Busters Challenge Panel will advise people where they think local authorities, insurance companies or schools have got it wrong.

Judith Hackitt, HSE chair and chair of the new panel, said:

Over the years we’ve seen health and safety invoked - wrongly - in defence of some pretty absurd decisions. 

When people hear about children being ordered to wear goggles to play conkers or the dangers of candy floss on a stick it undermines public confidence in the true task of health and safety, which is to manage serious risks to life and limb in Britain’s workplaces.

The launch of the Myth Busters Challenge Panel will add an important new voice for common sense. I am determined that the panel will help to put the spotlight on the worst health and safety myths and ensure that people give an honest account for their decisions.

This is a great opportunity for the public to stand with us against the jobsworths and cynics who are trivialising health and safety to suit their own ends.

Notes to Editors

The panel’s role is advisory but it will give authoritative independent opinions on. The adverse publicity arising from having the panel find against a decision maker will encourage them to reverse bad decisions.

The panel will be chaired by HSE Chair Judith Hackitt. Issues can be raised through the HSE website’s complaints page.

A separate Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel was launched in January to look into complaints regarding advice given by HSE or LA inspectors about health and safety which a complainant believes is incorrect or goes beyond what is required to control the risk adequately. The panel consist of independent members who have the competence and experience to assess advice that has been given on regulatory matters. For more information visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/challenge-panel.htm