Elf and Safety gone Mer-Mad!

Elf and Safety gone Mer-Mad!

24th October 2017

In our last News Roundup (a regular monthly column on all the latest news in the construction industry), we mentioned a story about a mermaid who was struggling to swim against the tide of health and safety legislation here in the UK and we’ve decided to cover the story in a little more detail and look for some similar stories on “Elf and Safety Gone Mad”.  When we see the scathing tabloid headlines blaming health and safety regulations, it’s all too easy to take it all in.  However, if you read the stories closely, there’s often very good reason for the application of the regulations in these cases.

Firstly, the mermaid story – a Worcestershire teenager, Leia Trigger (aka Mermaid Aries) has been thwarted in her attempt to build a career as a “professional mermaid” (no, we’ve never heard of this as a career option either) after being rejected from several leisure centre swimming pools in her area.  With the aim of attending children’s parties and other events, she needs somewhere to show off her swimming skills.  However, local leisure centre regulations bans the use of mermaid tails during public swim sessions due to the risk it poses to other swimmers, saying that the tail “can cause injury to other swimmers . . . as well as causing an irregular current that can make it difficult for other customers to use the pool.”

The traditional Boxing Day Swim has been banned by some local authorities citing concerns about plunging sea temperatures in winter and the possibility of inexperienced swimmers suffering hypothermia when they take to the ocean waves.

The tabloids got their knickers in a twist in the run-up to last Christmas, reporting that Christmas decorations had been banned in a block of flats.  Further investigation revealed that this was not the whole story – the decorations were only banned from being used in the communal areas of the building and wasn’t specifically aimed at Christmas decorations, but was an attempt to keep those areas clear in order to prevent the risk of fire spreading throughout the building.

In the case of Big Ben (which we covered earlier this year), the Elizabeth Tower which houses the bell (Big Ben is the name of the bell, not the clock) is undergoing renovations which will take four years.  The teams of workers carrying out renovation will be working in close proximity to the bell for four years.  With the chimes reaching 120 decibels, exposure to the noise on a daily basis for such a long time would cause irreparable hearing damage.  Using ear defenders would not provide adequate protection and would result in workers being unable to communicate effectively.  There is also the chance that workers would be distracted or startled by the chimes while working at height – an added risk.

Elderly residents of a Winchester sheltered housing block are angry that the local authority has recommended the removal of plants in pots and garden ornaments from the communal garden area as they are a potential trip hazard.  There are two sides to this argument and, with any luck, some sort of agreement could be reached – such as using raised beds.