Health and safety ‘wrongly invoked at Christmas’

December 24th, 2012 Category: Building Management

Christmas is almost here and families across the country are gearing up to celebrate the big day.

But many workers will have endured a rather muted build-up to December 25th, even if their boss has put on a Christmas party for them in the last few weeks.

This is because some businesses are apparently reluctant to mark the festive season in some of the most traditional ways.

Employers are apparently refusing to take simple steps such as put up Christmas decorations in the office as they are concerned about the health and safety implications of doing so.

Furthermore, some seem to be concerned about the possibility of getting sued if they clear snow from outside their premises.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has therefore insisted company bosses should not believe erroneous myths and said they can celebrate the festive season in earnest.

"Christmas is a special time of year," the watchdog commented.

"Even so, it doesn't stop health and safety being wrongly cited as a reason for preventing pretty harmless activities from going ahead."

For instance, the HSE noted that panto organisers refuse to allow sweets to be thrown to crowds for fear of injuring them, while some firms believe carol singers could be a health and safety hazard.

Meanwhile, it said a number of businesses are concerned about the possible dangers posed by Christmas lights and trees. The HSE stated that this "needlessly" ruins the festive spirit at this time of year.

However, it is also concerned that the actual purpose of health and safety regulations are being trivialised by this misguided approach to the issue.

The regulator insisted that the "true purpose" of health and safety laws is actually to protect people from "real risks at, or connected with, work".

With less than 24 hours to go until Christmas Day, it is too late for business to change their ways this year. But it serves as a good reminder of the fact that while compliance with health and safety law is essential, there comes a point where common sense must kick in and they can't be too overzealous with their interpretations of the rules.