As we move into the festive season we will probably hear about how “Elf and safety law” is ruining the fun because of “over the top” measures put in place by employers, local authorities and the like to stop people getting hurt. You know how it goes “local school bans snowball fights for fear of injuries to children”. Bah Humbug I say, it has nothing to do with health and safety law. There is no law that says you must not have snowball fights!
So, what drives and fuels these myths you may ask. The fear of being sued for compensation is the main reason for employers and others taking these actions and then the media get hold of it sensationalise it and lay the blame firmly at the feet of health and safety law.
So here are a few more of the myths created around the Christmas festivities:
“Workers banned from putting up Christmas decorations” – just use sensible steps instead of standing on chairs with castors!
“You can’t put the Christmas lights up because they have to be PAT tested” – just check for obvious signs of damage.
“You can’t throw sweets at Panto” – Oh yes you can!
These silly rules tend to trivialise health and safety, when the real reason we have health and safety regulations is to sensibly minimise the chance of someone getting hurt.
147 workers died as a result of workplace accidents in the full reporting year April 2018 to March 2019. 147 empty seats at the Christmas table, 147 families whose Christmases will never be the same again. This is the real reason we have health and safety law.
So enjoy your Christmas pudding in the knowledge that you can still put coins in it, “Elf and Safety” hasn’t banned it! And enjoy the carol singers on your street “Elf and Safety” does not require them to submit risk assessments to the parish council and apply for a permit!
For sensible, practical health and solutions contact Alcumus PSM on 01484 439930 or email [email protected]
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Written by Steve Ross, Senior Health and Safety Consultant