Christmas is a time for giving and sharing.
It’s that time of year when we get to kick back and relax and spend time with our families and friends. Granted, sometimes that might not be as relaxing as we’d probably like, but it is what it is. Unfortunately, there always appears to be someone who wants to throw a spanner in the works and stop us enjoying our Christmas traditions. They usually cite health and safety rules as the reason for this. They claim they’re only doing this for our own good and protecting us from ourselves, but we don’t need protecting. Frankly most of us wish they would just leave us alone and let us get on with enjoying ourselves. Here are some of the Christmas ‘elf and safety’ myths that we’ve come across: we’re sure you could add plenty of your own to these. What would we like for Christmas? Well, that’s simple: our Christmas wish is to put an end to health and safety Scrooges who try to dampen the Christmas spirit.
‘Elf and Safety’ Myths
Health and safety rules mean workers are banned from putting up Christmas decorations in the office!
Wrong: that poor excuse is only used by curmudgeons. Whilst it might suit some companies to say that ‘health and safety’ concerns mean they can’t allow workers to put up Christmas decorations, the truth is there are no rules or regulations regarding putting up the fairy lights or hanging bunting. You don’t need a professional to do the job: if you’re sensible and provide staff with suitable equipment like step ladders to put up decorations, then there’s no reason not to celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
Indoor Christmas lights need a PAT test every year!
Wrong: that’s just humbug. Lots of companies use that as a poor excuse for not celebrating Christmas. Many more companies simply waste money because they wrongly believe that Christmas lights need to be retested every year. But there are no specific rules governing this: all that’s needed is common sense. Simply take precautions, and check lights for obvious signs of damage. If everything looks in order, then there’s no reason not to bring some Christmas sparkle to the office this year.
You’re not allowed to throw sweets at Pantos!
Wrong: oh yes you can. Health and safety rules were famously blamed when a Panto banned the throwing of sweets to the audience. Were the organisers truly worried about the health and safety of audience members? Well, actually no: they were more afraid of being sued for compensation should anyone get injured. The chances of that happening are remote to say the least. There’s absolutely no reason why sweets can’t be thrown at Pantos – just as long as they’re not used as missiles! It’s good enough for the Tour de France, so it should be good enough for the Christmas Panto.
Santa really should be wearing a seatbelt!
‘Halesowen Council insists Santa Claus must wear a seatbelt in his sleigh’. It might have made a good headline for the Daily Express, but whoever came up with this interpretation of health and safety rules is clearly away with the fairies. This particular urban myth is nonsense. The Health and Safety Executive unsurprisingly don’t have a prescribed set of rules for Santa’s behaviour: they’re rather more concerned with addressing the risks that cause 240 workplace deaths and over 140,000 significant injuries each year.
Health and Safety rules prevent you donating second-hand toys for Christmas Toybox Scheme!
‘Second hand toys are unsafe’. That might be what passes for common sense in South Wales, but it’s simply nonsense. There are no health and safety considerations when it comes to giving and donating presents for kids. Apart from making sure the donated items are clean and in good order, there are no official regulations that apply. Make a child’s Christmas special; donate the presents you no longer want or need.
Christmas trees face cutbacks because of health and safety fears!
If you’ve noticed your town centre’s Christmas tree is looking a little bare, don’t blame it on health and safety regulations: blame it on the economy. Real Christmas trees cost money – and in the case of large pine trees, we’re talking lots of money, and the problem is that’s the one thing most Councils don’t have at the moment. If your Council has replaced its traditional tree with an imitation, or substituted its towering pine with a withered shrub, then it’s probably because they can’t afford to do otherwise. Blame this oversight on many things – just not health and safety.
Seats removed from High Streets during busy Christmas period because of health and safety regulations!
Councils haven’t moved the seats because Santa and his elves need the extra room for their sleigh; they’ve moved them because – well, no-one’s exactly sure. Yes, authorities have to manage crowd safety, but that can be achieved by employing sensible regulations. Any assumption that health and safety regulations require the removal of seats at peak times is simply untrue. So the next time you’ve been dashing through the snow with multiple shopping bags and discover you can’t find a seat to rest on, don’t blame health and safety.
Carol singing should carry a health and safety warning!
Some parish councils ban carol singing in certain localities or insist on permits: some insurance companies insist on a strict adherence to ‘health and safety’ guidelines before they’ll agree cover. Is this collective lack of Christmas cheer down to official health and safety regulations? No, it another bit of humbug. There are no official rules for carol singers; just common sense advice – don’t sing in the roads and don’t carry large amounts of cash around with you.
Putting coins in Christmas Puddings banned on health and safety grounds!
It’s a tradition that been around for 500 years or more, but if the killjoys have their way it’s a tradition that won’t be around for much longer. Finding a coin in your slice of Christmas pud is meant to bring luck and is seen as a sign of good fortune. But for some this practice is simply an accident waiting to happen: after all you might choke, or you might ingest a coin and be rushed to hospital. The truth is occupational health and safety law is concerned with what goes on in the workplace, not what goes on to the Christmas dinner plate.