Health and safety myths: end the blame game

The Health and Safety Executive is urging business to commit to a New Year’s resolution designed to bring an end to the health and safety “blame game”.

Judith Hackitt, chair of HSE and the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, said the time had come for employers to stop blaming health and safety for poor or over-the-top decisions.

“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,” Ms Hackitt said in comments reported on the HSE’s website.

Ms Hackitt was speaking against the backdrop of new research which reveals that half of all cases put to HSE’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel came from shops, cafes and leisure centres.

A prevailing fear of being sued, cost avoidance and lack of training were key drivers behind the use of the health and safety myths, according to the research.

As such, Ms Hackitt said it was incumbent upon businesses to start the year as they meant to go on by giving customers “the real reasons” for the decisions they take.

“We want people to be honest – giving health and safety the blame is lazy and unhelpful,” she added. “Customers are at the heart of 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.”

Health and Safety Executive turns 40

Calls to curtail the health and safety blame culture come as the regulator celebrates its 40th anniversary year.

Department for Work and Pensions Minister, Mark Harper, poured praise on the HSE for its “fantastic work” keeping people safe over the past four decades.

But Mr Harper warned that the continuation of “elf n safety myths” would only get in the way of efforts to “save lives”.

“No employer or worker should hide behind the health and safety excuses, if they act in a sensible way,” he said.

Mr Harper urged anybody who hears what they suspect to be a “bogus health and safety myth” to report it to the HSE’s panel for review.

Contact us

Let’s get
learning together!

0331 6300 626

Lines open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, GMT

Karon Reynolds

Prefer to talk by email?

Contact us by email

Send a message to
or fill in the form and a member of our safety team is standing by to help.

- John Reynolds