Myth busting panel set up to quash health and safety theories

An official group has been created to put an end to spurious and mythical health and safety rules and regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) set up the myth busters challenge panel, which will be headed by HSE chair Judith Hackitt, and includes 12 other health and safety experts.

 It aims to provide quick and simple advice to people who are subject to bizarre health and safety decisions made by insurance companies, local councils and employers.

Members of the public, employers or those looking to stage an event can contact the panel with their health and safety concerns.

The panel will then consider each case where advice is given by non-regulators who have quoted health and safety issues as the reason to do or not do something.

It will offer its opinion on whether the advice was correct and proportionate in terms of its interpretation of the requirements of health and safety legislation. The move has come as a bid to end the reputation that the HSE has developed in recent years.

Misuse of the term health and safety by companies and individuals that do not want something to occur has led to people assuming that the organisation is preventing events from taking place.

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.”

His views were backed by Ms Hackitt, who said that often health and safety rules and regulations are invoked wrongly to defend some strange decisions.

“When people hear about children being ordered to wear goggles to play conkers or the dangers of candyfloss 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.”

She noted that the panel is a “great opportunity” for the public to stand up against “the jobsworths and cynics” who trivialise health and safety and adjust it to fit their own needs.

In a bid to highlight the bizarre health and safety decision that the panel deals with, it is publishing its cases on the HSE website. A recent incident concerned members of a gym being told not to lift weights while barefoot.

The panel confirmed that there is no health and safety regulation in place that requires shoes to be worn or not whilst using free weights. It suggested that the real reason behind the request from the management is for hygiene purposes and urged companies to explain the real reasons for its decisions, rather than hiding behind the term health and safety.

With the Queen’s diamond jubilee on the horizon many people will be throwing street parties or hosting events in their own home.

The HSE and the government has taken action to ensure that parties go off without a hitch in terms of health and safety.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “The government has slashed back regulations on street parties, by reining back the complicated bureaucracy of forms, permissions and risk assessments – now councils need to do their bit to join in.

“Unnecessary and irrelevant health and safety regulations should not be used as an excuse to prevent people to celebrate; the only red tape in sight should be the jubilee bunting hanging in the streets.”

Myth busting panel set up to quash health and safety theories

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