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Written by
on 13 April 2012


From time to time the news is filled with health and safety myths which cause everyone to react.  Although it is not always clear where these rumours start it is possible to dispel some of the most common ones which are often believed but are in no way required by law.  Here are some of the most commonly believed myths and the facts behind them.

Hanging baskets are banned

There has never been a law banning hanging baskets. The origin of this myth stems from a town in the UK removing their hanging baskets back in 2004. They feared that the lamppost holding the baskets were too old and could collapse under the strain. However after an inspection it was decided that the hanging baskets could go back up.

Park Benches Need to Be Replaced If they are too Low

This is another myth with no truth behind it. A facility manager decided to replace all of the benches once which were considered to be three inches too low. There are not set requirements in place determining how high benches need to be.

Flip-Flops Are Banned from the Workplace

This is a false statement as there is no law in health and safety which dictates that flip flops or sandals cannot be worn to work. The problem with this myth is that if you work in a place where the floors can be wet or dirty flip flops would not be suitable, choose a shoe with a much better grip that fits well to avoid slips and falls.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey is Forbidden

The game of pin the tail on the donkey was thought to be considered a health and safety risk resulting on parents banning it from party games.  The use of a small pin in a game doesn’t seem to be too risky and it certainly isn’t considered to be a risk. Feel free to include this traditional game in your next party.

Christmas Decorations are Not Permitted in the Workplace

Companies are banning their staff from putting up Christmas decorations for no reason. This is not banned and not considered to be a risk, and there is no need for the decorations to be put up by a qualified person. Staff should be supplied with ladders which are suitable rather than balancing on inappropriate objects though.

Conkers is No Longer Allowed in Schools Unless Goggles are Worn

Playing the game of conkers was thought to be banned after a head teacher made their students wear goggles to play the game. After this incident many head teachers banned the innocent game fearing it was a health and safety risk. However, conkers can be played without wearing any kind of safety gear. The problem with conkers comes when kids hit each other with them, and this is a time for discipline not health and safety action.

With many myths being published online and in the papers it is sometimes worth investigating the truth before jumping to conclusions. Health and Safety consultants can help you to eliminate the myths in the workplace, so if you have any concerns contact them on 0800 1488 677 for assistance.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.