A panel of experts set up to expose incorrect or overzealous interpretation of health and safety regulations has ruled on its 300th case
Determined to focus minds on the success of health and safety laws, in saving thousands of lives and preventing many more serious injuries, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) set up its ‘myth busters’ panel in 2012.
It encourages members of the public to tell them when they think ‘health and safety’ has been cited wrongly. It draws on the knowledge of a range of panel members, from a variety of backgrounds, to consider the facts and then publish a ruling.
Over the years, the panel has put to bed an astonishing and often bizarre variety of things blamed on ‘health and safety’ – the fishmonger who refused to fillet a fish, the charity shop that refused to sell knitting needles, and the school that banned yo-yos from the playground, as a few examples.
Now it is has ruled on Case 300 – the village pub that did not have a mirror in the disabled toilet, for ‘health and safety’ reasons. ‘Ridiculous’, says the challenge panel, and a feeble excuse to mask the real reason (cutting costs).
Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE and the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, said: “I never cease to be amazed at the cases brought to our attention and they just keep on coming. ‘Health and safety’ is trotted out all too often, an easy way to hide the real reason for refusal to do or allow something, which is usually just bad customer service. Health and safety regulations are there to deal with risks to life and limb in the workplace; not for jobsworths to hide behind.”
Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People, who is also the minister with responsibility for the Health and Safety Executive, said: “The Health and Safety at Work Act has saved thousands of lives in its 40 years and we should celebrate its achievements. What it hasn’t done is stopped anyone putting a mirror in a disabled toilet, children from playing conkers, or any of the other excuses blamed on health and safety.”
Caption The HSE is determined to ‘bust’ the myths about health and safety enforcement.