Health and safety services can be a pretty dry subject area but the sector is not completely without humour if you look hard enough.
While legislation and improvements in recent years have made many workplaces much safer, we appreciate that there’s often a funny side to things and people are left bemused when they see certain stories in media.
It’s the common cry when something weird happens in the world of work. It’s sometimes down to an overcautious manager or boss. Behind many of the stories we see in the news, however, there’s often a sensible health and safety concern.
One example is the case of the Abellio Greater Anglia train guards who complained that using clippers to punch holes into train tickets was giving them repetitive strain injury. On the surface, this seems ridiculous. RSI is actually a big issue in many jobs but when you realise that guards will often punch 600 tickets a journey, you can see where an issue might arise.
Butlins were reputed to have banned dodgem cars in their fairgrounds from hitting each other because of fear of accidents. Instead, dodgem users were asked to drive safely and avoid each other. How this worked out, we’re not quite sure.
If you’ve ever been to the beach on a windy day, you may have seen a kite or two being flown. Since 2011, however, in East Riding, Yorkshire, the council have introduced a £500 fine for anyone found doing such a terrible thing, citing the imminent risk to beachgoers.
Closer inspection reveals that there’s more to this story than the frantic ‘health and safety gone mad’ crowd realise – the council weren’t out to stop little Tommy or Sally from flying their small kite on the beach but preventing the larger, high-speed ones which have become popular in recent years. In the wrong hands, these can actually cause serious injury.
Then there was the grandma in Neath, South Wales, who was told by her landlord that she couldn’t put up Christmas decorations outside her house. The reason? They were frightened she might fall off her ladder. The fact that she’d been doing it for the last 20 years didn’t seem to matter.
Most people who deal in health and safety services will tend to scratch their heads when it comes to stories like these. At first sight, they can seem over the top but that’s usually because media outlets are often looking for the killer punchline rather than taking time by investigating things a little deeper. Health and safety stories give us a giggle and a chance to show some righteous indignation.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does spend a bit of its time debunking some of the more prominent myths that appear online and in our newspapers. There was one story that said trapeze artists were being ordered to wear hard hats that was completely false.
Another suggested that a town was banning hanging baskets because someone could hurt their head walking into them – the truth was that some baskets were taken down but that was because the lampposts they were fixed to were old and there were fears they would collapse.
The truth about health and safety legislation and rules is that they keep us from harm and help lower risks of accidents. We now live in a much safer world than we did 30 years ago and that can’t be a bad thing. If your workplace is looking for health and safety training, why not contact OJ Health and Safety today?