The fairy lights are twinkling, and you’ve started your annual month-long mince pie marathon. You’ve dusted down your obligatory ugly Christmas jumper and you’re just getting warmed up to the festive season with The Pogues, Slade and Mariah Carey on repeat.
Christmas is definitely in the air.
If you’re lucky, that is. But if you’re on the receiving end of a festive ban that’s nuttier than a slice of stollen, then it might just seem like the Christmas Grinch is out in full force.
Unfortunately, as soon as the first hint of mulled wine hits the air, “’elf and safety” becomes the catch-all excuse for all kinds of strange and silly stories.
And I’m not talking about workplace safety compliance for Santa’s little helpers here. I mean those bizarre, eyeball-grabbing headlines that flood the tabloids around this time of year suggesting that health and safety is something cooked up by the Scrooges of the world. Designed to squeeze every last drop of fun out of Christmas.
In fact, take a closer look at any of these stories and they usually show a completely different picture. One that’s not at all related to health and safety regulations.
The nuttiest Christmas health and safety stories
Because we all deserve a laugh now and then, as an early Christmas present I’ve rounded up some of the most ridiculous health and safety corkers:
- Council bans taxi driver’s Santa beard – because it wouldn’t match his ID card photo
- Popular Christmas parade in Poole cancelled – because it might be… popular?
- Festive Alice in Wonderland fairy lights have the plug pulled – because it’s too dark
- Festive reindeer display in town centre banned – because it might snow
That’s not counting the long list of workplace bans of baubles and tinsel, snowball fights, and even Christmas pud!
Now that’s definitely a travesty.
The serious side
Cooking up some Christmas myths might be great for giggles, but there’s also an important side to it too.
Health and safety isn’t some silly bureaucratic game to stamp out fun. It’s there to make sure you and everyone around you gets to enjoy a happy, enjoyable and – most of all – safe Christmas.
Pinning the blame on health and safety regulations when there’s no real concern at all doesn’t just lead to jokey headlines. It also suggests that people can afford not to take it seriously, when they really should.
Your takeaway tips
Here are a few essential health and safety tips you should keep in mind over the coming weeks:
- Flickering flames are festive and pretty, but candles are also responsible for over 1,000 house fires every year. If you’re lighting up, keep them away from curtains and flammable surfaces – whether in the workplace, or at home.
- Don’t let your work Christmas dinner be a total turkey – whatever you’re serving up, make sure it’s properly cooked to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
- Watch where you go – bad weather and low light are the best of buddies when it comes to causing accidents, so take it slow and keep an eye on weather warnings.