Seven crazy 'health and safety' decisions

Step away from that fruit bread now...

sliced banana bread with walnuts

Last month, we reported on the case of train passenger Peter Kohler, who was refused permission to order a coffee and drink it from his own mug.

Virgin Trains justified the decision by saying that Mr Kohler's mug hadn't been risk-assessed, and could represent a health and safety risk.

But that argument's bunkum, says the Health and Safety Executive, which comments: "Transport companies are free to determine their own policy on conditions of carriage of passengers but should not incorrectly quote health and safety as their excuse for an unpopular decision."

Train passenger banned from using his own mug

Unfortunately, according to the HSE, it's a line that gets trotted out all too often. Indeed, the HSE frequently rules on cases where 'health and safety' has been used to justify some baffling decisions.

We round up some of the daftest 'health and safety' risks from the last 12 months.

1. Antibacterial wipes
An employee was told to stop using antibacterial wipes to clean inside vehicles, as it could apparently lead to the development of a 'superbug'. "Superbugs are a real cause for concern for everyone, but the use of chemical disinfectants in antibacterial wipes is not going to make the situation worse when used correctly," says the HSE.

2. Babies' dummies
A mum had to leave a café as the manager banned the use of dummies for young children and babies 'for health and safety reasons'. There's no legislation about this, of course - just a manager over-zealous about hygiene.

Doormat seized as 'health and safety risk'

3. Fruit bread
A customer at a supermarket cafe ordered fruit bread, but didn't want it toasted, as listed on the menu. The customer was told that this contravened health and safety regulations - complete baloney, of course.

4. Sitting in a car
A recycling centre manager asked parents to take their children out of the car and leave them outside the centre to wait. In fact, this is the exact opposite of the correct advice, which clearly states that 'children should stay in the car' at civic amenity sites.

5. Plastic wrapping
A supermarket deli refused to leave plastic wrapping on liver sausage stating that it was a 'choking hazard'. It's pretty ludicrous, especially when you consider that the sausage was likely to be wrapped in some other form of plastic bag before being handed to the customer.

Developer orders homeowner to rip up his drive

6. Mains extension lead
A local council banned a tenant from using a mains extension lead - from within his house - citing health and safety reasons. "This seems to be a case of the landlord leading their tenant astray by inappropriately extending health and safety at work legislation to justify their rules," says the HSE.

7. Standing up
During his wife's pregnancy scan at hospital, a husband stood up to pick up his 20-month-old son, who was misbehaving. He was told not to, because of 'health and safety'. Common sense would indicate that controlling the toddler would be safer than letting him roam...

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