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Signs of the times


The reasons for site rules can be many.

It has long been my experience, that rather than people accepting responsibility, it is easier for them to hide behind other people, rather the to take ownership of issues.

Or perhaps if I am being kind, a lack of understanding of why rules are in place and not explaining the reasons very well.

And such is the ‘scapegoat’, or should I say, the ‘misunderstanding’ of what health, safety, welfare (etc) is really about.

Here is a recent one, cited by the HSE. What was the true reason? We can only guess.


Issue brought to attention

The enquirers local school displays a sign on the main gate advising parents that the use of mobile phones on site is banned for reasons of health and safety. The enquirer would be happy to accept a simple school policy ruling and felt that health and safety was being used as a poor excuse.

Panel decision

There are a number of possible reasons why a school might decide to ban the use of mobile phones - although any connection with 'health and safety' is tenuous. Choosing to explain its policy in this way via a sign on the school gate does nothing to help pupils and parents understand the reason(s) for the ban in this school. It would be better for all concerned if the specific reason for the school's policy was made clear rather than use health and safety as an excuse.


If reasons for rules are made clear, most people are accepting of them, though some will query them. If the reason for rules are not made clear, and especially if they seem silly, then they are likely to be ignored or ridiculed. So, let’s take ownership and if the reasons for rules don’t ‘stack-up’, lets get rid of another un-necessary sign. 

For help, support and training re managing risks, suitable signs and more, please contact us via our web site or call us on 0800 111 4207. Or learn more about our range of health and safety consultancy services.