North West reports ‘jobsworth’ health and safety decision

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North West reports ‘jobsworth’ health and safety decision

One in ten of all reports about ill-founded health and safety excuses come from the North West, according to the latest figures.

Britain’s workplace safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has analysed the national spread of all reports to the popular Mythbusters Challenge Panel – set up to clamp down on bogus health and safety excuses.

The results show that more people report that they’re told “sorry, can’t do that because of ‘elf and safety’” in London and the South East than anywhere else – with more than fifty cases reported over the past year.

The North West is fourth on the league table, after the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, with 18 complaints. They included a sign on toilets in one library which informed readers that library books were not allowed to be taken into the toilets – due to health and safety.

Minister for Health and Safety Mike Penning said:

“Health and Safety regulations save lives – but bogus excuses do nothing more than throw a spanner in the works of otherwise sensible activity.

“No doubt the figures will raise an interesting debate about whether they reveal the extent of over-zealousness or show that people have had enough and are no longer prepared to put up with nonsense excuses.

“Either way, it’s good to see so many people on the side of restoring common sense.”

To see the map – and a list of regional and national highlights of the daftest “health and safety” decisions – click here.

Other ridiculous examples from other parts of the country include:

  • A housewife from Kenilworth who was told by her fishmonger they would not fillet her fish because it was too slippery;
  • Kids in Midlothian forced to traipse hundreds of yards to use their new tree house because the local council refused to build one on their own land; and
  • A woman who had her parasol confiscated at York races, but told she could have it back if it rained.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said:

“It’s becoming increasingly clear just how many petty jobsworths there are hiding behind health and safety for fear of being sued or because they simply can’t be bothered. I want more people to have the confidence to challenge these excuses. If it doesn’t make sense to you then you are probably being fobbed off – many people are beginning to realise that now.”

The Myth Busters Challenge Panel was set up in April 2012 to help the public challenge petty and misguided decisions wrongly made in the name of health and safety. Since then there has been more than 210 complaints to the Panel, with the huge majority of cases having no basis in law.

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