Minister for employment, Chris Grayling, said: "All too often jobsworths are the real reason for daft health and safety decisions. We want people who are told they cannot put up bunting or they cannot play conkers to know that there is no basis in law for such rulings."
The Health and Safety Executive is setting up this panel to provide quick advice to people who are subject to ridiculous or disproportionate health and safety decisions by insurance companies, local authorities and employers.
The mythbusters challenge panel – to be headed by Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair – represents a change in image for an organisation often viewed as institutionally prone to backing excessive health and safety decisions.
In a bid to shed that reputation, the HSE today publishes the 10 worst myths about the misuse of health and safety legislation, promising it will confront such decisions. They include children being banned from playing conkers unless they are wearing goggles, office workers being banned from putting up Christmas decorations, trapeze artists being ordered to wear hard hats, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey games being deemed a health and safety risk, candyfloss on a stick being banned in case people trip and impale themselves, hanging baskets being banned in case people bump their heads on them, a workplace ban on flip-flops and graduates ordered not to throw their mortar boards in the air
Hackitt said: "Over the years we’ve seen health and safety invoked – wrongly – in defence of some pretty absurd decisions.
"When people hear about children being ordered to wear goggles to play conkers or the dangers of candyfloss on a stick it undermines public confidence in the true task of health and safety, which is to manage serious risks to life and limb in Britain’s workplaces.
"This is a great opportunity for the public to stand with us against the jobsworths and cynics who are trivialising health and safety to suit their own ends."