The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinise seemingly absurd decisions made on health & safety grounds.
The Panel uses a pool of independent members with a wide range of interests (including small businesses, public safety, trade union, the insurance industry and many outside interests where day-to-day common sense decisions on risk management are made) to look into cases where health and safety has been used as the deciding factor in cases where it might not be justified.
We want to make clear that “health and safety” is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives.Health & Safety Executive
If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate to what you are doing, you can complain to the panel. It will investigate and publish its findings on the HSE website.
What Decisions Have Been Made?
At the time we checked the HSE website the latest decision was case number 197.
The first decision having been made back in April 2012. Some of the cases looked at in July are shown below:
- Case 197 – School sports day has been postponed due to dew on grass
- Case 196 – Trees and shrubs cut back at train station due to health and safety
- Case 195 – Take-away coffee on a train had to be put in a paper bag for health and safety reasons
- Case 194 – Department store restaurant bans fried eggs due to health and safety issues
- Case 193 – Bowling alley refused to switch off “foul line” detection due to health and safety
- Case 192 – Repairs to college desks and chairs must be carried out by a contractor
- Case 191 – Marathon organisers ban mp3 players and similar devices using earphones due to health and safety
Common Sense At Last?
We hope that the Panel will prove to be successful. H&S has been used disproportionately in many instances that we have seen over the years and perhaps having this method of recourse will help to alleviate some of the often petty decisions that are made. The Panel has been running for over a year now but it’s still relatively early days and we’re not sure how many people and businesses actually know about it’s existence. Time will tell!