Unhealthy excuses

The Elite Business team have been chuckling and shaking their heads in equal measure this week at some of the ‘health and safety’ excuses used by employers

Unhealthy excuses

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and government have slammed the “jobsworth” mentality of those responsible for imagining up bogus health and safety rules to mask poor service or avoid being sued.

Among the highlights (or lowlights) from the report by the HSE’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel (MBCP) – a panel we would love to sit on one day – were:

  • Bars that refuse to pull pints in glasses with handles

  • A burger that could not be cooked rare

  • The toothpicks removed from the table of a restaurant

  • The shredded paper banned from a school fete’s lucky dip stall

  • The cot bed that could not be made up by a hotel chamber maid

One party venue even had to reverse a decision to ban a bubbles machine from a birthday party after the Myth Busters intervened to save the day.

“We never cease to be amazed by the cases we consider,” said HSE chair Judith Hackitt.

“The reality is that people hide behind ‘health and safety’ when there are other reasons for what they’re doing – fear of being sued perhaps, or bad customer service. It’s time for them to own up to their real motives.

“The sad fact is that while all this nonsense is being spouted, it overshadows what health and safety is really about – ensuring people return home without injury from their day’s work, every day.”

Employment minister Mark Hoban, who has the government portfolio for health and safety, also waded into the furore, adding:  “Health and safety is there to protect people from serious risks, not to be abused by jobsworths who stop people getting on with their lives.”

As much as we would like to say something along the lines of “may this be a lesson to our aspiring entrepreneurs”, we are sure they were as embarrassed by this as the rest of us. 


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