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“let them eat cake” - Health and Safety gone mad?

7 December 2012

The threat of litigation and reputational damage can sometimes cause schools and Councils to take knee-jerk measures to protect themselves from health and safety liability. This was illustrated in a recent article which reported that parents were told they could not bring homemade cakes to a school Christmas fair unless they had a food and hygiene certificate. This follows reports of children being denied opportunities to go on school trips over health and safety concerns.

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive states: “The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as ‘reasonably practicable’”. Carrying out a risk assessment that identifies the hazard, notes who may be harmed and how, evaluates risk and decides on precautions should result in a common-sense approach being taken. Schools are right to take precautions in this litigious climate but using a sledgehammer to crack a nut could be to the detriment of pupils and the school community.

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