H&S Myths




Health & Safety often gets a bad press. Firms can go out of business because of their failure to comply with Health & Safety regulations. Myths abound about the raft of rules and regulations in place governing Health & Safety. We can debunk those myths and ensure that all jobs are compliant.


The effect of these myths being circulated is that the importance of Health & Safety is diminished. Health & Safety is associated with barriers to completion of a job on time and budget rather than as a framework for protecting staff and others.


Britain is a better and safer place because of Health & Safety regulation. Since the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 was introduced, the number of deaths caused by work related accidents & incidents have fallen by over 75%. The rate of fatalities is now one of the lowest in the world and much of that is because of strong, sensible regulations.


Health & Safety is regulated through the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, a short and simple piece of legislation dating from 1974, which states that employers have a duty to secure the health, safety and welfare of people at work and also to protect the public from risks arising out of work activity.


The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and the regulations subsequently enacted, are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities. Some of these regulations are general and cover all workplaces, such as the need for a risk assessment, others are specific to a sector, such as construction or the chemical industry. We are familiar with the regulations and guidance currently in place and can ensure that your project is compliant.


See below for some interesting snippets of information:



Myth 1


Health & Safety regulations now ban the use of ladders.



This story reappears regularly. In fact, there is no ban on ladders so long as they are used safely. There are regulations aimed at ensuring that people do use ladders safely. This is to reduce the number of workers seriously injured or killed falling off ladders every year. Each year on average 13 workers die this way and 12,000 are seriously injured. However, there is no ban on ladders so long as they are secured and used appropriately.



Myth 2


Firemen's poles have been banned on Health & Safety grounds.



This seems to have arisen from a case in Devon where it was reported that, to avoid the risk of injury when sliding down poles, a new fire station had not been equipped with a traditional pole. The truth was that the fire station did not have a pole because of space restrictions. There are no regulations banning the use of poles in fire stations.



Myth 3


There are now more regulations and red tape than ever.



In actual fact there were more than twice as many Health & Safety regulations and laws 35 years ago than there are now. The legislation that remains is now generally simpler and easier to understand.



Myth 4


Small businesses are being strangled by over-inspection and over-regulation.



The average small business is likely to be visited by a Health & Safety inspector around about once every 20 years. Even larger businesses, except for high hazards ones, are visited on average every 10 years. Small businesses are even exempt from some regulations. For instance, while every employer has to do a risk assessment on their staff, if a business has less than 5 employees it does not even have to write the assessment down or record it. Nor do they have to produce a written Health & Safety Policy.



Myth 5


Trapeze artists will be forced to wear hard hats.



This story has appeared several times over the past few years. Sometimes the ban is blamed on European legislation, other times on the new Work at Height Regulations. The claim is that these regulations will require trapeze artists to wear hard hats. This is of course complete nonsense. The reason that hard hats are worn is to prevent people being hit from falling objects. Not to protect you if you fall. They are completely inappropriate for trapeze artists and there are no regulations or plans for any regulations to introduce them.


A related story is that the Work at Height Regulations would mean that safety signs would have to be erected on the side of Snowdon. Again, there is no truth in this.



Myth 6


Health & Safety regulations have fuelled a huge rise in compensation claims.



The number of civil claims for compensation against employers as a result of accidents has fallen every year for the last 5 years. In fact, despite the introduction of 'no win - no fee' claims the total cost of compensation cases in Britain has remained, in real terms, static since 1989. Britain also pays out much less in civil compensation, as a proportion of its economy, than any other major European country apart from Denmark, and a third of that of the USA.





Schools have banned conkers.



This story, more than any other epitomises the trivialisation of Health & Safety. In fact two schools are known to have asked children not to bring conkers in on the advice of doctors, as children had severe nut allergies. In addition, one primary school head teacher brought in safety goggles for his pupils to play conkers. However, he stated that the reason behind this was that he wanted to make a statement over the increased fear of litigation. This point seems to have been lost on the media.



......and one other truth


Britain is a better and safer place because of Health & Safety regulation. Since the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 was introduced the number of deaths caused by work has fallen by over 75%. The rate of fatalities in now one of the lowest in the world, and much of that is because of strong, sensible regulations.