Wednesday 22 January 2020

'Elf and safety myths' targeted

Snowball fights are among festive activities wrongly banned as health and safety risks
Snowball fights are among festive activities wrongly banned as health and safety risks

Christmas office decorations, playground snowball fights and coins in puddings have all been wrongly banned as health and safety risks, the Government has said.

Panto performers have also been stopped from throwing sweets to the audience under the "ridiculous" reason that it was a hazard, it was revealed.

Ministers said they wanted to press ahead to tackle the "health and safety killjoys" by abolishing a number of regulations.

Work and Pensions Minister Chris Grayling said: "Christmas is a time for celebration and fun. We're determined to stamp out the health and safety killjoys who try to bring the spirit of Scrooge to Christmas events.

"We've always been clear that health and safety laws exist to provide important safeguards against people being seriously injured or made unwell at work and should not hamper everyday activities. These regulations are intended to save lives, not stop them.

"Our reforms will root out needless bureaucracy and ensure the health and safety system is fit for purpose through streamlining the maze of regulations and ensuring consistency across the board."

The Government published a list of so-called "Christmas elf and safety myths", which included children being banned from having snowball fights; office workers told they cannot put up Christmas decorations; panto performers ordered not to throw sweets into the audience; being sued for clearing snow from outside your business or home; and preventing people from putting coins in traditional Christmas puddings.

Also mentioned were seats being removed from shops - despite weary Christmas shoppers wanting to rest their feet; traditional town centre Christmas trees being scaled back or replaced by artificial alternatives; Christmas lights needing electrical PAT (portable appliance) tests every year; Santa being ordered to buckle up on his sleigh; and carol singers being classed as a health and safety risk.

The Government is establishing a panel in the new year which will allow businesses to get decisions of health and safety inspectors overturned quickly if they have got it wrong.

Ministers have launched plans to cut health and safety red tape, including launching a consultation on the abolition of large numbers of regulations, which will be reduced by a third rising to over a half over the next three years.

PA Media

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