Common health and safety myths in schools
Health and safety is often used as an excuse to stop activities or disguise unpopular decisions - giving rise to myths and misunderstandings. Some simply use it as a catch-all phrase when they actually mean something quite different.
Health and safety at work legislation is about reducing death, serious injury and ill health in workplaces. It is about taking the necessary action to reduce significant risks arising from work - it is not about banning activities.
- Are you falling prey to health and safety myths and misunderstandings?
The following examples demonstrate disproportionate health and safety management decisions. Don’t be deceived by myths such as these:
- Health and safety stops classroom experiments
- Banning snowballs
- Wrapping children in cotton wool
- Banning the use of egg boxes in craft lessons
To help dispel some of the myths HSE has set up the Myth Busters Challenge Panel to allow individuals or organisations to challenge decisions made in the name of health and safety that they believe are disproportionate or inaccurate. The Challenge Panel cases from the education sector provide a useful resource to help schools avoid the commonly occurring myths – these include:
- Blanket bans on the wearing of jewellery and charity wristbands
- Disproportionate restrictions on taking hot food and drink to school and on trips
- Over zealous portable appliance testing for equipment at boarding school premises
- Risk averse approaches to the use of play equipment in the school playground