Reading one of the Health and Safety Executive’s myth busting cases this week made me chuckle. The case (case 225 for those interested) said ‘Notice in charity shop window states they are unable to accept further donations due to health and safety’. The truth being that the shop wanted a temporary halt to donations to enable them to process the high volume of donations they had received- nothing to do with health and safety.
And why did this make me chuckle? I had a similar run in with my local charity shop a while back. I had sorted out our loft and had several bags of donations. As I wanted them out the house quickly we carried the bags to our local charity shop, run by a very nice lady. I passed the bags across, and on the top of one was a lampshade. Her face showed an expression of sheer horror “We can’t take that. It’s against health and safety law” she almost screamed at me. I laughed thinking she was joking. “No seriously we can’t. If we hang them from the ceiling and they fall and hit someone we will get sued”. At this point my husband was edging me toward the door, lampshade in hand, before I could start questioning her about the knowledge of health and safety legislation she had that surpassed mine. Once outside we saw a notice in the window stating “For health and safety reasons we cannot take donations of lampshades, suitcases, electrical goods or pushchairs”. I fully appreciate it is a small shop, and lack of space means they have to restrict what donations they can take, but the reasons need to be better explained than simply blaming health and safety.
The HSE myth-busters challenge panel was introduced by the HSE to challenge inaccurate or inappropriate advice or decisions being made in the name of health and safety. This time of year we will once again see local councils banning Christmas trees in town squares in case the wind blows them over; theatres preventing sweets being thrown at pantomimes in case they hit the audience; and office workers being prevented from hanging decorations from ceiling as step ladders are illegal. I agree that there is a level of risk to all these activities but being correctly carried out (with some common-sense and forward planning) they need not be unsafe- or banned due to health and safety.
So if you have five minutes to spare over the festive season and want to read some of the bizarre, far-fetched and very funny ‘health and safety ‘ excuses given, then click on the link below http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/myth-busting/index.htm
Wishing you all a safe and very Merry Christmas