We’ve all heard the classic ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ madnesses that abound at Christmas time. Kids can’t throw snowballs, decorations aren’t welcome, and you might even expect to find a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) officer picking through the toys in Santa’s sack.
But, what do you know? They’re not even true. Here’s why:
No Christmas Pudding coins allowed!
The HSE likes to remind people that they are here to ensure that the workplace is their jurisdiction. What people eat during their Christmas dinner is none of the department’s concern. Down-to-earth commonsense suggests that telling the people eating the pudding that they might get a small piece of metal in their mouths should be enough to guard against mouth injuries and broken teeth. That way we all get a chance of some luck at Christmastime.
Second-hand toys policed for safety issues
It’s true that damaged second-hand toys might present some safety issues for small children, but the HSE is adamant that only commonsense is required here. Wheels dropping off toy cars, sharp edges sticking out from something broken; these are the things which we know ourselves are dangerous, without any need for legislation or paperwork.
PAT tests dulling the spirit
To avoid shelling-out on annual Portable Appliance Testing on Christmas lights, some companies have banned them from the workplace altogether. It turns out the HSE only recommends that the person who puts up the lights does some commonsense checks, including making sure that all the wires are whole and not frayed in any way. Makes sense, right?
Christmas is banned from the office
Despite the battle that some medical organisations have had against infection-riddled pieces of paper being stuck up to noticeboards (they prefer laminated messages that they can clean), even they subscribe to a couple of weeks of paper chains and sparkly stars. Even the notorious Christmas lights are allowed. If hospitals are allowed, that means everyone else is too!
The HSE has, for a number of years, expressed concern about the health and safety myths that abound, particularly around traditionally fun times like Christmas, because they believe that it trivialises the real risks. If people think that Health and Safety is stupid, they should remember that around 240 people per year are killed in the workplace, and it is these situations that the HSE is designed to prevent. They’re concerned safety experts, not killjoys.
So if you’re wondering whether or not something Christmassy is safe to do, just put on your commonsense head and remember that it’s important to have some fun sometimes.