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New panel to tackle 'ridiculous' safety rules

BY Thomas Elliott
Health & Safety
BG Orange

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has established a panel of “myth-busters” to examine ‘risk-averse’ or erroneous decisions by external bodies as another way of bringing “common sense” back to health & safety.

The myth-busters challenge panel will be chaired by HSE chief executive Judith Hackitt, with HSE board member Robin Dahlberg acting as her deputy.  Another additional 11 independent specialists will also sit on the panel, having been selected for their experience across a variety of areas – including outdoor pursuits, public safety, and insurance – as well as wide range of industries.

Employment minister Chris Grayling welcomed the launch of the panel, saying: “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.

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

The panel will look at "ridiculous" decisions and, the government hopes, set about reversing them.  The HSE has always argued that it is not behind the more absurd rulings and bans imposed by overzealous local officials.

To empasise its commitment, the HSE has published a list of decisions the panel will challenge.  These include office workers banned from putting up decorations and graduates being warned not to throw their mortar board hats in the air.

Judith Hackitt said that over many years health & safety had been used to defend “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.” 

Hackitt added she was determined that the panel would highlight the worst health and safety myths and hoped it would ensure that people gave honest accounts for their decisions.

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