Each Christmas, the ‘health and safety’ elves come out of the woodwork, spreading myths about what you can and can’t do.
From not being allowed to hang Christmas decorations to not clearing the snow in case you get in trouble, health and safety is often cited as the reason why you might be kept from doing Christmas the ‘right’ way.
Cue the cries of ‘you can’t do anything these days!’ and ‘it’s elf and safety gone mad!’.
However, the reality is, these myths are just that - and pinning them on the health and safety Scrooge means people are less likely to take real health and safety rules, which are in place to keep us all safe, seriously.
A common health and safety myth we hear each year is that workers have been banned from putting up Christmas decorations in the office, or that decorations can only be hung by a ‘qualified’ person.
In 2006, the Royal Bank of Scotland was reported to have ‘banned’ staff in its City office from putting up Christmas decorations because there was a chance it could cause fire or injury.
The bank sent a memo to staff stating that: “On no account should anyone stand on desks or chairs and attempt to hang decorations themselves, in case of injury. Please remember not to put items on or around your PC screens as this is can be a serious fire hazard.
Staff were told to book an engineer who would hang the decorations on the ceiling for them.
Most sensible companies provide staff with suitable step ladders to put up decorations rather than expecting them to balance precariously on wheeled office chairs. Health and safety is about protecting people from real risks, so if you want to hang decorations in your office, go ahead, just make sure you have the correct equipment!
Other strange ‘elf and safety myths that pop up around Christmas time include:
- - Indoor Christmas lights need a portable appliance test (PAT) every year
- - Clearing snow and ice outside your office can make you liable for any injuries caused
- - You can’t throw out sweets at pantos
- - Santa needs a seatbelt in his sleigh
- - Second hand toys can’t be donated for ‘health and safety’ reasons
- - Traditional shopping centre Christmas trees scaled back or replaced by artificial alternatives
- - Seats removed from shops – despite weary Christmas shoppers wanting to rest their feet
- - Carol singers are a health and safety risk
- - Children are banned from throwing snowballs
- - Health and safety prevents people putting coins in Christmas puddings
These are all just myths! Health and safety legislation is about keeping people safe at work, so we can all work in a secure environment, not about stifling Christmas cheer. So, the next time you hear one of these myths in your office, you can set everyone straight.
For more information on health and safety legislation, or any of our work at height and safe access solutions, call us on 01767 691812 or use our online contact form.