Health and Safety: the Myths exposed


Every few days we read stories in newspapers where someone was ridiculed based on Health & Safety regulations.

From Christmas decorations that apparently posed a danger, to “dangerous” playground swings officials have been pushing the rules beyond their boundaries. As a nation, we take pride in our rules and regulations, but at times we get a little overzealous in implementing those rules.

A recent article in The Telegraph quotes Dr Mike Ebster, professor at the University of Portsmouth, and says “making children wear safety goggles to play conkers or banning sack races are nothing to do with health and safety, and are giving the regulations that do exist a bad name.”

According to the professor who has done an extensive research in the 100+year history of health and safety, the health and safety rules are fine as they are, but it’s the people’s perception of them that has “gone mad.”

Things have become so bad that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had to even introduce a helpline where people can phone in to enquire about a particular health and safety ban to see if it was accurate.

Even though the stretching of laws may make for amusing stories that are a good newspaper story, the fact is that nobody wants to be caught on the wrong side of them. However, blaming the rules that were made for good reasons l, is not the answer.

Even reviews conducted by Lord Young and Professor Löfstedt came to the same conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the regulations, but it is the erroneous judgement of officials who stretch them thin, distorting the essence in which they were to be originally construed.

Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair, comments in her blog on more than 200 cases she had seen in the last 15 months at the the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, saying they were mostly about ‘health and safety’ being used as a convenient excuse or at times non-existent rules being created or applying the sensible regulations in silly ways.

At Carlton Training we offer a basic Level 2 Health and Safety at Work course

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