Combating the Jubilee Health and Safety Jobsworths & Myths


For most, the Jubilee means a short week and an opportunity to rest and celebrate. But for firms carrying out critical construction works, such as railway infrastructure, it is a time that they will use to carry out vital repairs and upgrades.

If your contractors are in this position, then you have enough to worry about without troubling yourself with petty or imaginary health and safety restrictions on your workers or other members of the public putting up patriotic symbols or taking their spare time for outdoor partying.

In many ways it is sad that the authorities recognise that public perception of their health and safety fixation has become so jaundiced that they feel the need to issue a press release to deny that they are being killjoys.

Health and Safety ‘Jobsworth’ Myth Press Release

Under the heading, ‘Don’t let the jobsworths jeopardise jubilee celebrations’, the HSE issued a document to the media that revealed to the nation that the Government has decreed that celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee ‘should go ahead unhindered by bogus health and safety restrictions’.

The ‘Myth Busters Challenge Panel’ will apparently help to address any silly restrictions that people come across. The regulators are thus seeking to distance themselves from the ‘jobsworths’ who claim that there are rules preventing the erection of bunting or the holding of street events.

The Department for Communities and Local Government have been debating how local events could be organised with the minimum of bureaucratic fuss.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: 

“The Jubilee is a great opportunity for communities from all walks of life to come together, and reinforce our shared identity and sense of Britishness. The Government has slashed back regulations on street parties, by reining back the complicated bureaucracy of forms, permissions and risk assessments – now councils need to do their bit to join in. Unnecessary and irrelevant health and safety regulations should not be used as an excuse to prevent people to celebrate; the only red tape in sight should be the Jubilee bunting hanging in the streets.”

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt wrote: 

“Health and safety law does not to apply to local events organised by community volunteers and a few sensible precautions to deal with any potential minor incidents are all that is required. We are encouraging people to challenge decisions when they think health and safety is being used as an excuse and the Panel is ready to help.”

The Health and Safety Executive’s ‘independent panel’ will apparently scrutinise complaints regarding the advice given by non-regulators ‘such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers’. As a responsible safety consultancy, McCormack Benson Health & Safety more often finds itself demythologising or combating the regulatory excesses faced by its client firms, particularly in the area of construction safety. However, in the spirit of warmth and unity that we would like to embrace on this national celebration week, let us lay down the cudgels and wish everyone a merry and safe time, whether working or resting.