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December 19, 2011

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Minister says ‘bah humbug’ to Christmas killjoys

Festive fun-sponges have had their (Christmas) cards marked by the Government, which has warned them not to use spurious health and safety excuses to ban Yuletide celebrations.

To highlight the publication by the HSE on its website of the top 10 Christmas health and safety myths, Employment minister Chris Grayling said: “Christmas is a time for celebration and fun. We’re determined to stamp out the health and safety killjoys who try to bring the spirit of Scrooge to Christmas events.”

Among the “old chestnuts” highlighted by the HSE – which it compiled from media reports and correspondence it received – are the office workers who were told they couldn’t put decorations up, pantomime performers who were banned from throwing sweets into the audience, warnings not to put coins in Christmas puddings or clear snow from outside homes and workplaces, and insistence on annual PAT tests for Christmas lights.

According to the regulator, such actions “not only needlessly ruin the festive spirit but also trivialise the true purpose of health and safety: protecting people from real risks at, or connected with, work”.

Nevertheless, accidents can and do easily happen over the Christmas period – the most recent government figures available show that, in 2002, some 1000 people visited A&E in the UK after home accidents involving Christmas trees, while a further 350 ended up in casualty after incidents involving fairy lights.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says that, with care and forward planning, most accidents can be avoided – to this end, it publishes a list of 12 Christmas safety tips on its website, including advice on keeping clutter and trailing cables to a minimum, and proper planning of the Christmas dinner in order to avoid mishaps with hot fat and sharp knives.

Commenting on the Government’s plans to press ahead in the New Year with implementing the recommendations of the Löfstedt Review, Chris Grayling added: “Our reforms will root out needless bureaucracy and ensure the health and safety system is fit for purpose through streamlining the maze of regulations and ensuring consistency across the board.”

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12 years ago

Er, does not the rport of the Christmas story claim that 1000 people visited A&E after quote: “Home accidents”?
Does the Health & Safety at WORK Act now apply to private dwellings? And mainly at Christmas??
In 20 years of applying H&S in various workplaces, I have never been asked to deal with a home related accident!
There is a touch of hysteria emerging ref the dangers of `elf and Safety. Not helped by stories like this!