Blame Health and Safety!

Funny Instances Where People Incorrectly sited Health and Safety Regulations

Everyone knows that Health and Safety of important in the workplace and this blog often discusses serious issues related to health and safety. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the UK’s occupational safety agency, similar to the US OSHA. The HSE has collected a number of cases where individuals have cited Health and Safety regulations in situations that may not strictly apply. A few of the more humorous 2013 cases are copied below.

  • The Chef at a carvery restaurant refused to serve the customer some skin off the turkey on the grounds of health and safety. The Chef said it was a ‘choking hazard’.
  •  A member of staff in a café refused to put sauce on the enquirers’ ice cream due to health and safety reasons.
  • An enquirer visited a racecourse as a spectator. While she was there, a steward confiscated her parasol because it posed a health and safety risk. She was told that someone could use it as a weapon.
  • An enquirer and a friend went to a restaurant in a Department store and decided to share a baguette between them. When they asked for the baguette to be cut in half to share the assistant told them they were no longer able to do that because the store had taken away all the knives on health and safety grounds.
  • During children’s swimming lessons, the local swimming pool has banned spectating parents from reading e-readers, for child protection and health and safety reasons
  • A school had planned to run a sports day for 3-4 year old pupils in the morning – followed by activities for older pupils in the afternoon. The morning event was postponed due to dew on the grass.
  • An enquirer visited a department store restaurant with friends for breakfast and were told they couldn’t have fried eggs because of ‘health and safety issues’. Puzzled at this remark they inquired further. They were told it was because someone in another store had left a pan on the heat whilst frying eggs causing a fire, therefore the decision was made to stop supplying fried eggs in all store restaurants.
  • The enquirer wanted to purchase filleted trout in her local supermarket. None was available pre-packed so they asked the assistant on the fresh fish counter if he could fillet some from a whole fish. He agreed but then his supervisor intervened saying that this wasn’t possible on the grounds of health and safety because the fish are too slippery. The enquirer noted that on the supermarket website, it states “just ask if you’d like your fish skinned or filleted”.
  • A custard pie fight at a local event has been cancelled because the event organizers could not get insurance on the basis that the activity is too dangerous.

Some of these cases may be the result of people blaming health and safety laws in order to get their own way; others may be an over reaction to past accident and some may be the result of poor education, i.e. people learning about the regulations third or fourth hand; by which time they have become greatly embellished.

Therefore, if one does not want to end up on a list like the one above, is always important to ensure that both the employer and the employees have an accurate understanding of the health and safety laws and to apply common sense.

There are many more cases on the HSE website, including the HSE’s commentary on each one.