Heard the one about the fishmonger who refused to fillet a fish because it was ‘too slippery’? Or what about when cleaners at London Underground stations were banned from wearing wooly hats in winter, or how British Airways staff weren’t allowed to hand out boiled sweets?
If you have, then you’ll know (probably to your displeasure) that these ridiculous rules and regulations have all been defended by employers in the name of – you guessed it, ‘health and safety’.
Other bizarre rulings have previously included staff not being allowed to use a kettle in staffrooms [because they might burn themselves] or, believe it or not, teachers not being able to use Blu-Tack to stick children’s pictures on windows, just in case the sticky blue substance combines with a chemical in the window that could make the glass shatter!
Not surprisingly, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has become slightly hacked off with all this political correctness. It has got fed up with employers for dreaming up ever-more crazy rules, and then defending them as being down to health and safety. In reality, it argues, the HSE is pro-common sense, and has nothing what so ever to do with these silly rules.
And, just to show it means business, its latest measure has been to embarrass those behind bogus regulations by revealing the extent to which the HSE’s name is taken in vain. This week it released its Myth-buster Map, to reveal the areas where the most jobs-worthy employers are.
The results find Yorkshire has the second-worst reporting of absurd edicts, with Wales and the Highlands of Scotland having the fewest.
Health and Safety Minister Mike Penning said: “Health and Safety regulations do save lives – but bogus excuses do nothing more than throw a spanner in the works of otherwise sensible activity.” He added: “It’s good to see so many people on the side of restoring common sense.”
HSE chair Judith Hackitt says the Myth-buster Map is all about restoring good old common sense. She said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear just how many petty jobsworths there are hiding behind health and safety for fear of being sued or because they simply can’t be bothered."
Her advice? She says: "I want more people to have the confidence to challenge these excuses. If it doesn’t make sense to you then you are probably being fobbed off – many people are beginning to realise that now.”
To see the map – and a list of regional and national highlights of the daftest “health and safety” decisions – click here