Legal News | Health & Safety Rules Used As An Excuse

Irritated by companies using Health and Safety ‘laws’ as an excuse to refuse services to customers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have started a Myth Busters Challenge campaign, which aims to stop organisations “hiding behind the term health and safety” and to give the real reason behind their decisions.

On the Myth Busters Challenge page of the HSE’s website, which has been running since April, they have published a list of “blatant examples” of firms using the watchdog as an excuse. Examples sent in include cafes refusing to heat up baby food and an airline refusing a passenger a blanket – unless they paid £5.

Other examples using ‘health and safety’ as an excuse, include a woman being banned from wearing sandals to the office, a campsite not allowing sleeping in a camper van and a council banning a nursery teacher from taking the children to an allotment.

Judith Hackett, Chair of the HSE said that the Myth Busters Challenge panel had “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 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.”

The panel said that no such health and safety restrictions exist and ruled that the incidents reported were “a matter of company policy regarding customer service and should not be using health and safety as an excuse to hide behind”.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said it was “hugely frustrating when excuses are being made in the name of health and safety”.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London