Don’t Blame Health and Safety says a Shrewsbury expert
30th September 2014
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Health and Safety is all too often used as an excuse for people NOT to do things as opposed to doing them by simply managing the risks, says Salopian Health & Safety Consultancy.

Did you know that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a Myth Busters Challenge Panel? It was set up in 2012 to provide quick advice to people subject to ridiculous or disproportionate health and safety decisions by insurance companies, local authorities, employers and overzealous jobsworths.  The Panel has received over 200 cases since it was launched with nearly all rulings finding a decision was made without having any basis in health and safety law.  Here are a few cases:

Can you stock plasters in a first aid box?

Issue:  An employee had cut her finger in the workplace and a colleague tried to obtain a plaster from the first aid kit but there were none.  The employee asked a manager if they could restock them but she replied that due to health and safety reasons i.e. allergies, plasters were no longer supplied for the first aid kit.  Panel decision:  ‘’There is no health and safety regulation which bans the provision of plasters, in fact HSE’s own guidance recommends that a first aid box should stock plasters.  If the concern is about the small risk of allergic reaction to some types of plaster then this can be easily managed by stocking the hypoallergenic variety or simply asking the person being treated if they are allergic to plasters before they are applied’’.

Donkey rides banned at village fete

Issue:  A newspaper reported that council bureaucrats banned donkey rides for children at a village fete because of health and safety concerns. Panel decision: "There is nothing in health and safety law that stops children enjoying a holiday donkey ride, or that requires them to wear helmets to do so.  In this case the organisers cancelled the donkey rides because the operator did not hold the licence required under animal welfare legislation. This was misrepresented as a health and safety issue in the newspaper report. HSE is keen to set the record straight, and for this and future generations to continue to enjoy the traditions of the summer fete’’.

School refused to allow pupil to bring in a live baby chick for school presentation

Issue:  A school's policy does not allow a pupil to take in a pet baby chick into school for his presentation due to health and safety and quoted bird flu as the main reason. Panel decision: "Health and safety legislation does not prevent children bringing pets and small animals to schools, and the small risk of any type of infection can be readily controlled by simple everyday measures like hand washing.  Specific guidance to help schools build these activities into lessons is freely available and helps avoid disproportionate, risk averse decisions like this one being attributed to health and safety."

Remember health and safety law is not a barrier to undertaking well managed activities. Taking a sensible, proportionate approach is the key to making sure things go smoothly and safely and avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy.  If you would like to ensure you are legally protected and want to receive practical and sensible advice which is proportionate to the risk then please get in touch.

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