“A Crazy Little Thing Called . . . . . Health and Safety”
We’ve all heard the phrase “health and safety gone mad” – it seems to hit the headlines on quite a regular basis when the media comes across cases where the level of health and safety issues involved seem to be totally out of synch with the situation.However much we like to mock health and safety rules and regs, we should also remember that they are there for a reason. The stringent health and safety laws we have here in the UK have led to a dramatic reduction of fatalities in the construction industry in the UK over the past 40 years, so however inconvenient some rules are, they work. If they can impact so powerfully when lives are at stake, then it’s worth the inconvenience.
However, with Christmas on its way, it’s time to lighten up a little so we’ve been doing a little bit of hunting on the internet and come up with some “health and safety gone mad” stories to make you chuckle during the festive season. There’s the company that banned its workers from getting their lunch from a local takeaway in case they developed food poisoning on the premises and blamed the staff canteen. Or, what about a workplace where an office is left completely unused and empty because it led to a fire escape and people “might fall over desks in a fire”.
We all know that stress in the workplace is a real problem and many employers attempt to address this by encouraging healthy lifestyles, promoting healthy eating, providing staff benefits including gyms, pools, workout sessions, etc. One company went in the opposite direction completely, banning lunch time yoga sessions in case of injuries.
What about staff training? We all know that nowadays we need to be correctly trained in the use of machinery and equipment. However, staff having to attend a training course to learn how to use the communal kettle and microwave to make drinks and snacks does seem to be taking things a little bit too far! Still on the subject of training, we’ve probably all had to attend a safe lifting course of one kind or another, whatever job we do and whatever industry we work in.
There are all sorts of training courses that you think are just teaching you how to do simple stuff that you’ve been doing all your life. One training course on safe lifting descended into mayhem when the instructor injured himself showing the trainees how NOT to lift a heavy box.
Then there is the maintenance department which regularly uses a ladder balanced on desks and work tops to change light bulbs and fittings. When questioned they claimed to have done it this way for years and never fallen off. Mad ladder stories abound online. Once company when inspected was found to have the fire doors wedged open to allow easy access between rooms.
Some of the crazy health and safety stories can actually make you shudder, but they keep coming up time after time. We’ll find some more tales of madness and mayhem with health and safety issues in the New Year. Watch this space.