Health and safety 'misuse' advice from panel

Chris GraylingHealth and safety "misuse", such as children banned from playing conkers unless they wore goggles, or office workers banned from wearing flip flops, will be challenged by a new panel, the Government has announced.

The panel, chaired by the head of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Judith Hackitt, will offer advice to anyone affected by "ridiculous" decisions.

Ministers hope adverse publicity from the panel's findings will lead to bad decisions being reversed.

To mark the announcement, the HSE published a list of decisions the new panel would challenge, including office workers banned from putting up decorations, trapeze artists ordered to wear hard hats and graduates warned not to throw their mortar board hats in the air.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: "All too often jobsworths are the real reason for daft health and safety decisions. We want people who are told they cannot put up bunting or they cannot play conkers to know that there is no basis in law for such rulings.

"Common sense is the key to successful health and safety. The Myth Busters Challenge Panel will advise people where they think local authorities, insurance companies or schools have got it wrong."

Ms Hackitt said: "Over the years we've seen health and safety invoked - wrongly - in defence of some pretty absurd decisions.

"When people hear about children being ordered to wear goggles to play conkers or the dangers of candy floss on a stick it undermines public confidence in the true task of health and safety, which is to manage serious risks to life and limb in Britain's workplaces.

"I am determined that the panel will help to put the spotlight on the worst health and safety myths and ensure that people give an honest account for their decisions."