Verging on the ridiculous

words: Simon Bloxham
Mortar boards

A council has stopped its workers using strimmers over fears that the debris they throw up could damage property and injure people.

Maintenance teams at Cheshire East Council were told to switch to weedkiller spray because of the threat of flying stones.

The move by the council – which is responsible for trimming grass verges around the multimillion pound mansions of some of Britain’s wealthiest footballers and actors – was branded ‘barmy’ after it announced it was banning the strimmers over the health and safety fears.

Some locals said they were more concerned about gardeners using weedkillers in their streets.

Gardening staff, who maintain public spaces outside homes in the ‘golden triangle’ of Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, and Prestbury, as well as the upmarket towns of Macclesfield and Nantwich, use strimmers on difficult areas that cannot be reached by lawnmowers.

And it just gets better

Students have been banned from throwing their mortarboards in the air at the University of East Anglia, with health and safety being used as an erroneous excuse.

According to The Tab, the student newspaper for the university in Norwich, students have been urged to mime a throwing action and have hats digitally added to the photo later at a cost of £8.

A university spokesperson said injuries cause by falling mortarboards presented an “unacceptable risk”. She said: “We want to ensure no student’s graduation day is ruined by the potential for avoidable injury.”

The Health and Safety Executive, which set up the Myth Busters panel to tackle the use of health and safety as a catch-all excuse, responded to the story.

“You’d think universities would study history and do a bit of research before repeating tired health and safety myths like this one,” said Geoff Cox.

“The banning of mortarboard tossing on supposed ‘health and safety’ grounds is one of our most popular myths and actually appears in our Top 10 all-time worst health and safety excuses.”

He added that the law doesn’t stop graduates from celebrating their success in the time-honoured fashion of throwing their mortarboards in the air.

“The chance of being injured by a flying mortar board is incredibly small and it’s over-the-top to impose an outright ban.

“We usually find the concern is actually about the hats being returned in good condition.”

Don’t be fooled and try some common sense

These are just two stories that hit the headlines recently. They are quite simply ridiculous and if you ever get a health and safety consultant trying to tell you “you can’t do this” without a really good reason, show them the door and bring in some common sense instead.

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