Tequila and dummies – The top Myth Buster cases of 2016

Conkers in playgrounds and hanging baskets in town squares – we have all seen the headlines that don’t help our profession’s image one bit. Luckily the Myth Busters Challenge Panel from the HSE is here to expose the cases where health and safety is used as an excuse for certain decisions.

Through the MBCP, members of the public can challenge advice or decisions made in the name of health and safety that they believe are disproportionate or legally inaccurate. Here are SHP’s top picks of 2016.

Case 389 – Nightclub refused to serve salt and lemon with Tequila shots

Issue: Bar manager refused to serve salt and lemon with Tequila shots to customers in a nightclub due to health and safety.

Panel opinion: There is no workplace health and safety legislation that prohibits the service of salt and lemon with tequila. This looks like a case of quoting an easy excuse – possibly to cover up poor customer service. The bar should simply serve the drink in the traditional way as requested, and not misuse health and safety legislation in this way.

Case 390 – Family told by undertaker that shoes are not allowed on deceased’s body for funeral

Issue: Family arranging a funeral told by undertaker that the deceased would not be allowed to wear shoes as it was against health and safety regulations.

Panel opinion: Health and safety at work legislation does not stop undertakers enclosing shoes in coffins. Depending upon whether the deceased is to be buried or cremated after the funeral, there may be other reasons for not allowing shoes but this should have been explained properly to the enquirer. It is certainly not a health and safety matter.

Case 393 – Library will not let users plug their laptops into power sockets for health and safety reasons

Issue: A Council run library will not let users plug their laptops into electrical outlets because of a risk of tripping or in case of faulty laptop charger plugs.

Panel opinion: The council and library seem to have got their wires well and truly crossed in this case as both the potential problems appear to have been well under control.  Restricting the charging of the laptop can’t be justified on health and safety grounds in these circumstances.

Case 400 – Baby’s dummy café ban

Issue: A mum had to leave a café as the manager banned the use of dummies for young children and babies for health and safety reasons.

Panel opinion: Health and safety at work legislation does not stop babies using dummies in cafes. This appears to be the café’s company policy which according to the press article they relate to strict food hygiene guidelines. The café should clearly explain the reason behind their policy rather than dumbing down the issue and blaming health and safety.

Case 403 – Husband not allowed to stand up during his wife’s pregnancy scan for health and safety reasons

Issue: During his wife’s pregnancy scan at hospital a husband stood to pick up his 20 month old son who was misbehaving. Upon standing he was told that due to health and safety he was not allowed to stand up during the examination.

Panel opinion: Pregnancy scans need to be conducted carefully to check on the development of the foetus. Partners moving around during the scan may be distracting to the sonographer and small children could injure themselves or others if they are roaming free with medical equipment all around them. However, it is misleading to suggest that partners can’t stand up or siblings need to be controlled under health and safety legislation.  Asking partners to remain seated when appropriate or controlling young children when necessary in these circumstances is generally a matter of common sense. A simple briefing before the procedure would explain this and help to avoid any misunderstanding.

The top Myth Buster cases of 2016