Health and safety rules are abundant in offices, and while most are completely acceptable, there are some restrictions which a lot of employees deem pretty ridiculous.
You may recall a time at work when you got told off for doing something which you usually wouldn’t give a second thought to.
Standing on a chair, for example. At home, a chair is a pretty common choice of equipment used in hanging decorations, catching ceiling spiders, and changing lightbulbs.
If this scenario were to happen at work, however, you’d probably be breaking at least one health and safety rule.
A study conducted by international animal charity SPANA looked into Britain’s most bizarre health and safety rules, comparing the wide range of restrictions to the lack of health and safety regulations working animals have.
Check out the video here:
SPANA provides free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries around the world.
The researchers polled 2,000 workers and found out some of the strange regulations work places have set – a lot of which must have been motivated by some interesting, yet unfortunate, stories.
SPANA’s study revealed that a fifth of participants were banned from wearing flip-flops in the office, while one in five are not allowed to change light bulbs in their workplace.
Some workers are only provided with plastic knives and forks, while others must tuck in their shirts while shredding paper.
At least the shredding rule helps anyone having to avoid walking around the office in a newly-tasselled crop top.
The long list of odd health and safety rules also included not being allowed to give a colleague paracetamol, filling out a form to use plasters and a ban on birthday cake candles.
The Chief Executive of SPANA, Geoffrey Dennis, spoke about the excessive amount of health and safety rules workers have in comparison to the lack working animals have.
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It’s clear some workers feel that health and safety rules in the workplace have gone too far – and there are certainly a few strange policies.
It’s positive, however, that employers are taking the physical well-being of their staff seriously and there are protections in place to keep them safe.
Sadly, it’s a very different story for many working animals overseas.
Far from having a health and safety policy, these animals often undertake backbreaking labour in dangerous conditions and extreme heat, with no veterinary care available when they are sick or injured.
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The research revealed that more than a third of the respondents believed the health and safety laws in their workplace were too strict.
One person admitted that they were required to log a wound as minor as a paper cut in their company’s ‘injuries book.’.
Another, astoundingly, said they weren’t allowed to change the clocks on the wall to fit in with daylight savings, and instead had to call an engineer to complete the task.
How many injuries have actually been caused by changing clocks? Maybe they had to stand on a chair to reach them. It could have been a spinny chair. God forbid.
But the epitome of unusual health and safety laws has to belong to the company which banned Christmas decorations from their office, ‘in case someone got tangled up in it’.
That would be a serious case of tinsillitis. (Like tinsel. Get it? Sorry.)
Take a look at the top 40 most bizarre health and safety rules:
1. No leaving doors open, as it’s a fire hazard
2. No wearing of shorts
3. No heavy lifting
4. No open toed sandals in case you drop something on your foot
5. Do not wear flip-flops in the office due to safety concerns
6. Do not change light bulbs
7. No running
8. Do not climb a ladder
9. No drinks near a PC or laptop
10. No toasters
11. Only allowed hot drinks in certain areas
12. Do not give each other painkillers, such as paracetamol
13. Do not take get any medication from the first aid box
14. No candles on someone’s birthday cake
15. Do not take a plaster without filling out a form
16. No heaters
17. No open windows
18. Must hold handrail when walking up or down stairs
19. No tinsel to be put up anywhere near work stations
20. No hats
21. Do not carry drinks up or down stairs
22. No carrying boxes
23. Water bottles only – no cups or glasses
24. Nobody is allowed to bring nuts into the building
25. No Christmas tree to be put up
26. No fans
27. No eating while walking
28. No turning things off
29. Do not shred documents
30. No hot drinks
31. Do not attempt to remove paper jams from the printer
32. Do not move office chairs
33. Must wear a headset to be on the phone
34. Do not share food food from home, such as cakes, with colleagues due to the potential food poisoning risk
35. No balloons in the building
36. Employees must clock out before engaging in chit-chat
37. No facial hair
38. Anything left on your desk gets thrown in the bin
39. Only plastic knives and forks to be used
40. No more than one personal item on your desk
SPANA’s study also found that nearly four in 10 people would be happy to break the rules in their workplace if they disagreed with them, or found them unnecessary.
But breaking the rules doesn’t come without its repercussions, and one fifth of the participants admitted they had got into trouble with management and been disciplined for ignoring what they had determined an overly-strict rule at work.
14 per cent of the respondents revealed that things had got so bad after their rule breaking that they even considered getting a new job.
Though, of those who have been injured in the workplace, a quarter admitted they were contravening health and safety rules at the time.
As ridiculous as they may be, these results shows rules aren’t necessarily made to be broken.
With the average employee having been in place for more than eight years, half of British workers think health and safety regulations have got stricter since they started working at the company.
More than four in 10 even admitted to uttering the immortal words ‘it’s health and safety gone mad’ after a new rule had been introduced.
One in four think the rules are so strict that they’d have preferred to work 50 years ago, when health and safety regulations were less strict.
Geoffrey went on to say:
Health and safety rules that are deemed over-the-top can cause frustration for employees.
However, most people in the UK recognise that these policies are there for a reason – and over three-quarters think that we are lucky to have health and safety regulations as workers.
Ultimately, everyone wants to go home safely at the end of the day, whether that’s from an office or a building site.
For working animals and their owners in developing countries these workplace protections simply don’t exist.
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On a daily basis, working animals such as donkeys, horses and camels face many serious threats – from wounds, injuries and road accidents to tetanus and other deadly infections.
That’s why SPANA’s work is so important – ensuring that the welfare of these hardworking animals is improved and that they get access to the vital veterinary treatment they need.
We believe that a life of work shouldn’t mean a life of suffering.
Find out more about SPANA here.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.