6 Christmas Health & Safety Myths

We thought we would take a look at some common myths about health and safety over the festive period because we all know that health and safety can sometimes be touted as an excuse for something not to be done…

#1 Children can’t throw snowballs

If we are blessed with a dousing of the white stuff, it tends to bring the country to a halt. But what also happens are myths over schools banning the throwing of snowballs and intrepid wild swimmers no longer allowed to take a dip all down to health and safety rules.

The truth is, when it comes to health and safety if the focus remains on the trivial, we miss the bigger and genuine health and safety issues.

#2 The office Christmas lights need PAT testing every year

No, they don’t, so don’t use this as an excuse not to decorate the office or enjoy the gentle twinkling lights on the Christmas tree.

Just like you do at home, when you take the Christmas lights out of the box each year, check them over to make sure they are in good condition with no exposed wires or damage etc. If you are PAT testing in the run-up to Christmas, you could include the lights as part of that haul.

#3 Removing seats in shops is part of health and safety crowd management

In the run-up to Christmas, we all know how extra busy public places – including shops and retail parks – become. When you have a full store with crowds inside and out, crowd management becomes a central health and safety issue.

Removing seats in store is NOT a form of crowd management and neither do they present a health and safety issue in most cases.  Unless it is risked assessed that shop furniture is contributing to a health and safety risk, you can leave seats where they are or move them to a better spot.

#4 Carol singing is a health and safety nightmare

If there is one thing that sends a tingle down the spine and helps shoppers to relax and enjoy the festivities, it is the harmonious tones of carol singers.

And yet, there have been instances of carol singing being put on the backburner due to ‘health and safety’ reasons. Personal safety advice, such as don’t carry large amounts of cash whilst out and about singing carols, is not health and safety but common sense.

#5 You can’t clear pavements of ice and snow yourself

Again, another health and safety myth that has, in many cases, dulled our sense of responsibility by assuming that if someone falls on the pavement we cleared, we will be sued.

This is not the case and yes, you can clear snow and ice from pavements to make it safer for everyone to use. Again, common sense comes into play but also a little bit of know-how. Take a look at Government advice about clearing pavements.

#6 Christmas decorations are banned from the workplace

Really?! Yes, there have been cases of businesses banning Christmas decorations on health and safety grounds or requiring that they are put up by a ‘qualified’ person although who this is and what qualifications they have remain a mystery.

There is nothing wrong with Christmas decorations in the workplace but like everything, a smattering of common sense is always worth its weight in gold. Suitable step ladders if decorations are going up high, as well as plenty of team spirit,  should do the trick.

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