Bogus health and safety bans exposed

Bubbles have been banned from children's parties, citing health and safety laws. Photo: Press Association

More than 150 bogus safety bans have been exposed as mere ploys by organisations to hide bad customer service or avoid being sued.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed some of the scores of cases it has been made aware of in the past year, as part of its fight back against "jobsworths" who use safety laws as a ruse to ban legitimate activities.

Among the long list of cases are bubbles being banned from a child's birthday party, toothpicks removed from a restaurant and a hotel cot bed left unmade.

Officials said people were hiding behind health and safety to cover up bad customer service or because they were afraid of being sued

The HSE says some hotels have been refusing to sell burgers 'rare', blaming health and safety laws. Credit: Press Association

Cases referred to the panel included bars refusing to serve pints in glasses with a handle, a hotel saying they could not serve burgers rare, toothpicks removed from a restaurant, shredded paper banned from a school fete, and a birthday party venue which refused to use a bubbles machine. In another case, a couple were told that a hotel chambermaid could not make up a cot bed for their son because of health and safety regulations.

We never cease to be amazed by the cases we consider. Why on earth do people think that they can get away with banning pint glasses with handles, bubbles at a birthday party, or burgers served anything other than well done, claiming they are a health and safety hazard?

The reality is that people hide behind health and safety when there are other reasons for what they're doing - fear of being sued perhaps, or bad customer service. It's time for them to own up to their real motives.

The sad fact is that while all this nonsense is being spouted, it overshadows what health and safety is really about - ensuring people return home without injury from their day's work, every day.

– Judith Hackitt from the Health and Safety Executive