Health and safety myths

There is no shortage of daft decisions being blamed on health and safety. Over the years, the HSE has tackled some quite incredible myths about what health and safety bans or orders people to do.

It’s hard to tell where some of these ridiculous and baffling myths originate, but they all have one crucial thing in common – they are not required by health and safety law.


Myth: Kids must wear goggles to play conkers:

This is one of the oldest chestnuts around, a truly classic myth. A well-meaning head teacher decided children should wear safety goggles to play conkers. Subsequently some schools appear to have banned conkers on ‘health & safety’ grounds or made children wear goggles, or even padded gloves!

Realistically the risk from playing conkers is incredibly low and just not worth bothering about. If kids deliberately hit each other over the head with conkers, that’s a discipline issue.


Myth: New regulations would require trapeze artists to wear hard hats:

Despite being widely reported at the time and regularly repeated since, this story is utter nonsense. There never were any such regulations.

Hard hats do an excellent job of protecting building workers from falling debris – but they have no place on a trapeze.


Myth: Graduates are banned from throwing mortar boards:

Health and safety law doesn’t stop graduates having fun and celebrating their success in the time-honoured fashion!

The chance of being injured by a flying mortar board is incredibly small, and when the concern is actually about the hats being returned in good condition, it’s time to stop blaming health and safety.


Myth: Health and safety risks stop children playing ‘pin the tail on the donkey’:

We recently read that the traditional party game ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ is allegedly under threat because parents consider it an unsafe risk.

Not trusting children with drawing pins seems a little overprotective to us. After all, millions of children have been playing traditional party games like this for years without any problems.

Was this just a marketing ploy to drum up sales of party games?