We have all heard about the children banned from playing conkers unless they wear goggles and the workplaces prohibited from putting up Christmas decorations due to the hazardous nature of tinsel, but which of these stories are predicated in real health and safety fact and which are mere myths?
It may sound strange, but myths can be as dangerous as simply going against sound health and safety advice, as basing processes on hearsay or the principles established by other organisations can quickly leave businesses with rules and regulations that hinder the quest for a safe workplace rather than helping it.
In some cases, the biggest health and safety myths have been completely fabricated but in others they reflect genuine measures put in place by individuals taking things too far, being overly cautious or looking to use health and safety as an excuse for their own separate, hidden agenda.
In reality, there are relatively few specific hard and fast rules when it comes to creating health and safety regulations within public or working spaces, and each organisation should carry out their own informed and educated risk assessments to understand the steps they really need to take. Below, we look at a few of our favourite cases of health and safety procedures being put in the wrong hands:
Microwaves are dangerous
From offices to hospitals, many premises have banned the use of microwaves citing health and safety legislation as the reason why. However, there is no such law prohibiting the use of microwaves in the workplace and either those in charge have been misinformed or are using health and safety as an excuse for other misgivings they have about the use of such appliances.
Hard hats on the high wire
Trapeze artists wearing hard hats? Whilst such protective gear will be perfect for those on a building site, trained professionals swinging through the air with a safety net below are not going to benefit from such headgear in terms of either safety or style.
No hot drinks here
Hot drinks have been banned in many different places on health and safety grounds, but one of the best instances was on a public bus. Whilst all organisations are free to have their own rules on hot drinks, blaming it on government guidelines is not only a coward’s way out but also confusing to others creating their own safety policies.
Tales of overprotective schools abound from those that ban certain skirts for being trip hazards to those who demand students wear tie clips to keep them safe. However, one of the most ludicrous seems to be one school that banned yo-yos due to health and safety. Since any toy could cause minor injuries if misused, banning such toys is akin to wrapping every child in bubble wrap just to be on the safe side.
If your business has heard of health and safety policies that seem a bit extreme, we at Phoenix can help you bust those myths. With our focused training courses and expert health & safety consultancy services we can ensure that you only ever implement regulations that truly will make your workspace a safer place.