Myth: A tenant received a letter saying that balconies should not be used for hanging washing, storing large plants or bicycles due to health and safety.


When properties have balconies it is reasonable to assume they are there to be used and it is difficult to understand why a ban on certain uses of the balconies has been put in place.


Myth: An employee was advised that using antibacterial wipes inside vehicles could lead to the development of a ‘superbug’.


Superbugs are a real cause for concern for everyone, but the use of chemical disinfectants in antibacterial wipes is not going to make the situation worse when used correctly.


Myth: An employee asked a manager for a plaster from the first aid kit but was informed that due to health and safety reasons i.e. allergies, plasters were no longer supplied for the first aid kit.


There is no health and safety regulation which bans the provision of plasters, in fact HSA’s own guidance recommends that a first aid box should stock plasters.


Myth: When ordering chips from a chip shop to take away, a woman asked for her chips to be put in a paper bag instead of a plastic tray. However, she was told it’s against health and safety, in case you burn yourself on the chips”.


Cases of poor customer service like this need to be wrapped up and thrown in the bin.


Myth: A Train passenger purchased a coffee from the trolley service. Passenger was told it must be placed down on the table by the attendant due to health and safety reasons.


No Health & Safety Regulation has been established to back this claim up but it does help in the reduction of scalding incidents on trains.


Myth: A Nightclub banned head banging due to Health & Safety concerns.


Whilst there is some limited evidence that head banging may not be good for your health, there is no specific H&S regulation which bans this activity. The night club would perhaps have been better served to advise their customers of that, rather than imposing a blanket ban and blaming H&S.

Garden Furniture


Myth: A Housing Association removed plastic garden furniture citing health and safety reasons for fear of furniture blowing around in bad weather.


Health and safety law does requires the housing company to protect its staff and residents from its own work activities and undertaking – e.g. from property maintenance but does not apply to the storage of domestic belongings within a communal garden. It seems the housing association has chosen to satisfy the complaints of one set of residents by taking a quick decision and hiding behind health and safety rather than properly consulting all the residents to identify a mutually acceptable solution.


Myth: A mum had to leave a café as the manager banned the use of dummies for young children and babies for health and safety reasons.


Health and safety at work legislation does not stop babies using dummies in cafes. This appears to be the café’s company policy which according to the press article they relate to strict food hygiene guidelines.


Myth: A Health and Safety Officer in a paper mill is saying all staff must remove their wedding rings or they will be sent off the premises.


The employer’s policy that rings should not be worn when working on or close to moving machinery is sensible and supported by industry guidance going back many years. However, whilst removal might be part of a safe system of work for tasks, this does not mean a blanket ban is required.


Myth: Every possible risk needs a sign.


This is false. If anything, having too many signs can make a risk worse. For example, if you see the same sign in the same place you will become immune to it. If the risk is still present, you will have forgotten about it and that is when it becomes a problem. Signs should only be used when and where necessary. And don’t forget to take the sign away once the risk is no longer there.

Safety Statements Header


Myth: Risk assessments must be long and complex.


A risk assessment is a tool for highlighting any possible risks. The length of the document depends on the findings. Where safety has already been a priority the likelihood of the risk assessment being drawn out is small. If a risk assessment is complex, then it will not help or encourage anyone. It should be fit for purpose and not just put together for the sake of it.

Myth - Flip Flops


Myth: You cannot wear flip-flops in the workplace.


Flip-flops are not and have never been banned under Health & Safety guidelines. It may be the management’s own decision to ban the wearing of certain footwear but there is no legal reasoning behind it. It is suggested that suitable footwear be worn only to prevent slips, trips and falls but these things can happen no matter what footwear is worn.


Myth: Egg cartons have been banned from school crafting activities due to the risk of salmonella.


Health & Safety regulations have never banned the use of egg boxes from children’s activities for any reason. It is advised that the boxes are clean for use in arts and crafts but that’s just common sense.

Myth - Drinks Tray


Myth: A customer was refused a tray to carry her drinks on a night out as she had received no Health & Safety Training.


Again, no reasoning behind this. You do not need H&S training to carry a drinks tray.

Myth - Hot Water


Myth: Health & Safety is the reason behind coffee shops refusing to sell water to make tea


This is the shop management’s decision and not a Health & Safety guideline.

Health and Safety Executive (UK), (2014). Myth Busters Challenge Panel. [online] Available at: