In a New Year’s press release, the Health and Safety Executive wants businesses that provide customer service to turn over a new leaf and stop blaming health and safety for poor or over-the-top decisions.
The UK regulator launched its 40th anniversary year with a call to stop the culture of blaming anything and everything on non-existent ‘health and safety’ rules.
Retail and leisure businesses feature in new research by the University of Exeter, which reveals half of all cases put to HSE’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel came from shops, cafes and leisure centres.
Steve Terry, Managing Director at Astutis commented:
“At the time of year when we traditionally make resolutions or pacts with ourselves to make a change or difference over the ensuing 12 months, it would serve the industry well if everyone took a step back and evaluated situations with a common sense approach before using health and safety as a convenient excuse.
As health and safety professionals, we all know the value of perceptions and how difficult it is to change these in this particular field. A glance at health and safety hashtags in twitter feeds will go some way to revealing the extent of feeling towards the subject from the general population and any efforts made by the HSE to stamp out misuse in its name are to be supported.”
Customers are being left increasingly frustrated by the over the top decisions made in the name of health and safety - more often than not to cover up what is simply poor customer service - and the Myth Busters panel has deliberated over 340 cases since inception to refute inaccurate or over-the-top decisions made for ‘health and safety reasons’,
The University's research, which also looks at perceptions and understanding of health and safety regulation in society, found the fear of being sued, cost avoidance and lack of training were other key reasons behind the use of the health and safety myth.
Elf n safety’ myths get in the way of what the law is for saving lives, not stopping people living them and anyone hearing of a bogus health and safety myth is being encouraged to report it to the Myth Busters panel.
Judith Hackitt, Chair of the HSE and the Myth Busters Challenge Panel said:
“HSE wants to encourage everyone, especially those working in leisure and retail, to make a resolution to stop using the health and safety catch-all excuse.
“Give the real reason for the decision you take. We want people to be honest giving health and safety the blame is lazy and unhelpful.
“Customers are at the heart any business. Getting rid of over-the-top decisions blamed on health and safety will improve the service customers receive and enable the business to prosper.”
The full research report is published on the University of Exeter's website.