Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
November 22, 2013

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Bogus ‘elf and safety excuses worst in the south east


More people in London and the south east have reported ill-founded health and safety excuses than anywhere else in the UK, new analysis has found.
The HSE has analysed the national spread of all reports to the Myth Buster Challenge Panel, set up in 2012 to help the public challenge petty and misguided decisions made in the name of health and safety.
The results show that more people have reported that they’ve been given an ‘elf and safety’ excuse in London and the south east than anywhere else in the UK. 
Yorkshire had the second worst reporting rate with 22 complaints and Wales and the Scottish Highlands received the least number of excuses.
Mike Penning, minister for health and safety said: “Health and safety regulations saves 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.”
Some of the worst excuses raised in London were:
  • the cleaners at London underground stations being banned from wearing woolly hats in winter;
  • a department store refused to serve fried eggs in a ‘full English breakfast’ for fear of a pan fire; and
  • a British airline flying out of Heathrow refused to serve boiled sweets to passengers suffering ear-aches. 
Excuses 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;
  • children 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.
Judith Hackitt, HSE chair 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. If it doesn’t make sense to you then you are probably being fobbed off — many people are beginning to realise that now.”
The HSE’s map can be found here.

Related Topics

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anthony Fischer
Anthony Fischer
10 years ago

London Underground H & S Bulletin states: ‘Woolly hats or hoodies can also impair your vision and hearing on work sites affecting your safety. As a result these items are prohibited when working on LU infrastructure. This notice also applies to the cleaners when carrying out their duties on LU infrastructure.

Paul Williams
Paul Williams
10 years ago

Anthony, I can’t believe you’re defending the LU action on wolly hats. I suggest you do what we have done and issue a corporate branded ‘standard’ wolly hat that does not impair anything other than heat loss and hair product overuse.