‘Stupid decisions’ made in name of workplace health and safety revealed

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Bans on yo-yos in playgrounds, knives in kitchens and kettles in offices have all been wrongly blamed on workplace safety laws this year, a new report has revealed.

A health and safety “myth-buster” panel set up to expose mis-uses of the law – or just silly decisions – has received scores of complaints from members of the public in 2012.

The panel has now responded to its 100th case, with 38 put down to jobsworths making an excuse for an unpopular decision or simply poor customer service. Almost a quarter of the cases were found to involve over-interpretation of legitimate guidelines, leading to daft decisions being made – probably through fear of being sued.

Cases included a bus driver who refused to let a passenger on with a cup of hot coffee, a pub customer told he could not carry a tray of drinks from a bar to his table, a charity shop refusing to sell knitting needles, and an airline passenger told to stop sucking a boiled sweet – all on “health and safety” grounds.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “It’s so frustrating when people are stopped from doing perfectly sensible things on the false pretence of health and safety.

“The panel has now exploded 100 myths and is helping ordinary people fight back against the jobsworths.”

Judith Hackitt, who chairs the Health and Safety Executive, said: “It’s really important that we are all ready to challenge stupid decisions made in the name of health and safety.”