You can't do that! The worst health and safety myths busted


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So you want to wear sandals in the office, sleep in a camper van or take school children on a day out to an allotment?

Well think twice - or rather don't.

A government myth-busting initiative to uncover the over-zealous application of health and safety rules has discovered a spate of 'jobsworthy' behaviour.

Along with the examples listed above the myth-busting panel also cites: cafes refusing to heat up baby food, concerns over the use of microwaves on hospital wards and gym-goers told they can't lift weights unless they're wearing trainers. All in the name of health and safety.

Dubious health and safety decisions made by 'jobsworths' are causing too much disruption to people's lives a myth-busting panel said today.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the panel, which was set up in April, had contested a range of decisions made under the banner of health and safety.

Amongst them were decisions made by councils, insurance companies and a variety of employers.

A number of “over-zealous” decisions had been made, including hospitals refusing to have microwaves on wards, a school relocating a tree house, and sleeping in a camper van banned on a campsite.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “It's hugely frustrating when excuses are being made in the name of health and safety. The panel is helping the man and woman on the street to fight back against the jobsworths.”

Judith Hackitt, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive and of the panel, said: “The panel has seen some blatant and disturbing examples of people using health and safety as an excuse in the last few months, ranging from a smokescreen for a whole host of unpopular decisions to completely nonsensical interpretations of what the law requires.

“We're tackling these jobsworths and their lame excuses, which trivialise the real work of health and safety. The real task is to prevent death, serious injury and ill health caused by work.”

Top ten health and safety myths

- A boot supplier claimed that it was banned from accepting dirty boots for return

- Cafes and restaurants refusing to heat up baby food

- A golf club told players that golf buggies were not health and safety authorised

- A hospital refused the use of a microwave on a ward

- A gym-goer was told he could not lift weights without wearing trainers

- A woman was banned by her boss from wearing sandals in the office in summer

- A passenger was refused a blanket on a flight but told she could buy one

- A campsite banned sleeping in a camper van

- A primary school's treehouse had to be located away from the premises because of a risk to children

- A council banned a nursery teacher from taking children to an allotment

Health and Safety Executive