HSE launches Myth Busters Challenge Panel to stop over-zealous safety rulings

The Health and Safety Executive has launched a panel to look at advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health-and-safety consultants and employers to determine whether "sensible and proportionate" decisions have been made.

It highlighted one unnamed local authority that refused to allow hanging baskets to go up for Village in Bloom until engineers had assessed the lamppost to show it was capable of holding the bracket and baskets.

"This is a classic case of valid health and safety principles being applied in an overly-cautious and inappropriate way," the panel found. "Precautions that the council are expecting from the Village in Bloom organisers are disproportionate."

Instead the panel, chaired by HSE chair Judith Hackitt and including independent members from small businesses, trade unions and insurers, said a simple visual check was all that was needed to confirm the suitability of the fixing.

"Health and Safety is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead," according to the executive, which has set up the Myth Busters Challenge Panel to scrutinize such decisions.

"We want to make clear that health and safety is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives. If you think a decision is wrong or disproportionate you can complain to the panel."

Another case involved a tree house for a primary school that had to be built outside the school’s grounds. The panel said this seemed to be a case of risk-averse action by the council possibly on the grounds of potential civil liability, and that the tree house could have been built on the school grounds.

Meanwhile, a golf club barred a group from using buggies because they were not "health and safety authorised", which the group found odd as the club would probably have to use some sort of buggy vehicle to carry out maintenance of the course.

The panel said: "This seems to be a clear case where health and safety has been used incorrectly to avoid giving the real explanation for what is actually a policy decision by the club.

"HSE has no role in the authorising of golf clubs or the use of buggies. Golf clubs are entitled to make their own rules and many do ban the use of buggies, but none of them should hide behind health and safety as the reason for it."

For more information about the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, clich here


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