Health & Safety Myths – Graduates banned from throwing mortar boards?
Aug
31

The myth:

Graduates are banned from throwing mortar boards

The truth:

  • Throwing mortar boards supposedly carries a risk of injury as a falling hat could hit someone on the head.
  • Really? If they were so heavy, why would we put them on our heads anyway? We could injure our necks! Surely that’s more of an issue than a falling hat?
  • Furthermore, the idea is that an unsuspecting victim would be walking past, only to be hit on the head by a hat a happy graduate threw. In reality, if you see a bunch of graduates on graduation day, hats in hand all cheering, you know what to expect, and would take the ‘necessary precautions’ by covering your head if it seemed that you were going to fall prey to a hat falling from the sky.
  • Let’s face it- the risk of injury from a hat is quite unlikely. If they were throwing medieval knight’s helmets in the air en masse, then there would be a problem
  • This myth most likely may have risen from a university being stingy and wanting their hats returned in good condition. Using health and safety as an excuse rather than thinking and being honest about things are the some of the reasons for the existence of the mythical monster that health and safety has become.

Food Safety – Bacteriology – The Food Poisoning Chain
Aug
24

Bacteria are single-cell, microscopic organisms, with over 1 million able to fit onto the head of a pin and still be invisible to the naked eye. They can be found everywhere, in soil, water, food, on people and in the air that we breathe. In most cases, hundreds of thousands or even millions of bacteria need to be consumed to cause food poisoning. However, there are strains which will cause illness if a relatively small number are eaten. On a Food Safety basis, many varieties are harmless (or even beneficial) to humans as they thrive in the gut where they break down foods and absorb nutrients. Other bacteria are necessary for the production of foods such as yoghurt and cheese. Some as also essential for sewage treatment.

If you have Food Safety food safety concerns, we can help you.

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Food Safety – Cleaning
Aug
17

Best practice is to “clean as you go” to prevent a buildup of dirt and waste where bacteria can multiply. It goes without saying that all surfaces MUST be sanitised before commencing work and that immediate cleaning and disinfection of equipment after working with foodstuffs is essential.

Remember, if you made the mess, then you should clean it up!

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Health & Safety Myths – Teachers & Plasters
Aug
16

The myth:

Teachers can’t put plasters on children’s cuts.

The truth:

  • This is a myth that has become overblown and causes much confusion in the workplace- apparently; teachers with pupils that have a minor graze must ask permission from parents before cleaning and covering the wound.
  • There is no law that says a responsible person cannot put a plaster on a child that is not their own.
  • The confusion may lie in the fact that some people are allergic to plasters. If you know a child is allergic to plasters, use a hypoallergenic one.
  • This sort of begs the question: why not only have hypoallergenic plasters for use in schools?
  • One can only hazard a guess at the origins of this myth: a singular school having a bad experience with a pupil- killing them by applying a plaster incorrectly, the common fear of paedophiles, or most likely the school’s fear of being sued by an unruly parent.

Fire Safety has to be taken seriously
Aug
11

With two major retailers recently suffering from the increasingly draconian approach being taken by regulatory authorities and the courts, it is clear that fire safety has been targeted for special attention. These cases have shown that the courts are happy to impose large fines (some would even argue excessive) to encourage companies to take fire safety seriously.

This is most clearly illustrated in the recent decision against a high street fashion retailer. The company suffered a fire at it’s Oxford Street branch, which, although triggering a large scale evacuation, suffered no casualties. In the subsequent investigation, the company was found to have committed a number of breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including inadequate fire risk assessments, a lack of trained fire marshals, and obstruction of escape routes. Despite none of these breaches actually causing the fire, the company was fined £400,000.

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Health & Safety Myths – Toy Weapons
Aug
11

The myth:

Toy ‘weapons’ in a play had to be locked-up and registered with the police!

The truth:

  • A small theatre company locked up their toy weapons claiming they were just following the HSE guidance sheet.
  • HSE define a weapon as “any object which is designed for the purpose of inflicting bodily harm”. This, surprisingly, does not extend to plastic children’s toys. They are not designed to cause harm, but if you throw them hard enough at someone’s face they can do some damage…
  • On a related note, BB guns are considered as firearms under HSE’s legislation, as anything which includes projectiles is regarded as a firearm. It must be regarded as a lethal when both loaded and unloaded, and must be stored in a secure place, only to be handled by the armourer. This all sounds a little too hefty for a play, don’t you think? ‘The armourer’ put a most amusing image in my mind- two samurais fighting to the death with Aladdin’s mom running past shouting “he’s behind you!”
  • So in fairness, if the “children’s toy” referred to was a BB gun, then they were following the guidance sheet correctly. But have you ever seen a village play guest starring a BB gun? (If you have, let me know- I want to see this!)
  • So where did this myth come from? Media propaganda makes it hard for us to know whether it was a plastic sword or something a little more dangerous. More than likely though, it was the result of an over cautious director mistakenly following what he thought to be law. With so many ludicrous health and safety myths floating about though, it’s an easy mistake to make

George and the Dragon (…of Health & Safety)
Aug
09

Righto, I’m George, a 19 year old girl (yes, a girl called George) working over summer at a Health and Safety firm called LRB consulting. I’m at the University of Manchester studying philosophy- a course I realise is about as unpopular as health and safety. Random facts about myself include the following: I am afraid of fish- dead, alive, on a plate, or on the telly, I have never seen the Star Wars saga and I know that hover boards don’t work on water (unless you’ve got power).

Now you know a little bit about me, (which I’m sure you’re so very happy about) I’ll let you know what I’m doing! I’ve been asked to write a blog about Health and Safety and focus on the ways in which it has been turned into a monster by idiots. The view most people probably have is that health and safety is just like British weather- a big grey could that looms over all of our lives and has that annoying little habit of making you feel uneasy on a regular basis.

My first task on this blog is to put on my best Adam Savage impression and become a Mythbuster. Basically, to look the ludicrous things people have done in the name of health and safety and see what I find out surrounding it.

Enjoy!