The Health and Safety Executive put out a series of ‘Myths of the Month’. This picture below was attached to the following:
‘The reality. Health and safety law is often used as an excuse to stop children taking part in exciting activities, but well-managed risk is good for them. It engages their imagination, helps them learn and even teaches them to manage risks for themselves in the future. They won’t understand about risk if they’re wrapped in cotton wool. Risk itself won’t damage children, but ill-managed and overprotective actions could!’
And I totally agree with this approach taken by the HSE. However, it must be extremely confusing for UK business owners when they read The Telegraph and see ‘Teacher sacked after using sledge as example of design technology’. Although some claim this really is just an attempt to get rid of a troublesome teacher.
In New Zealand many similar myths circulate like ‘OSH bans lolly scrambles’ or ‘Children banned from school playground equipment’, which I’ve always put down to overzealous organisers trying to blame the Department of Labour for their decisions. I was somewhat surprised last year to read a newsletter from our local Whenuapai Primary School Head Master discuss the dangers of using School playground equipment outside of normal school hours eg parents doing pickup, as no teachers are around to ‘supervise’, and therefore ask that kids stop playing on the equipment.
Safety myths come from decisions made by well intentioned but poorly informed people. As a business owner, don’t let some half-baked comments around safety force you make some purely bureaucratic based decisions. Instead learn safety and risk management techniques to make informed and legal decisions.