Health and safety myths unmasked
Bubbles banned from a child's birthday party, toothpicks removed from a restaurant and a hotel cot bed left unmade are among a list of health and safety myths exposed in the past year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said more than 150 cases had been reported to a panel it set up last year to fight back against "jobsworths" who use safety laws as a ruse to ban legitimate activities.
Officials said people were hiding behind health and safety to cover up bad customer service or because they were afraid of being sued.
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.
Judith Hackitt, who chairs the HSE, said: "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."
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.