Slips, trips and falls, and other forms of accidents in public, can be both gravely embarrassing and physically debilitating. Because of this, there are a number of public liability laws and health and safety regulations in place for public areas.
However, these laws do not extend so far as to reach where a cafeteria cannot serve a child a soft-boiled egg, as happened in a museum which earned the incident a place on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently published, myth-busting list of ‘crackpot cases’
So, what actually happened with the boiled egg?
As unlikely as it seems, the incident occurred exactly as described. A child asked for a ‘dippy’ (i.e. Soft boiled) egg in the cafeteria and was refused the order on the grounds of health and safety.
What justification did the museum use for the decision?
The museum in question did not go into specifics, which is often a problem for the HSE, whereby companies and places use ‘health and safety’ as an umbrella term to justify a number of decisions that have no grounding in safety laws.
What threats of accidents in public does eating a boiled egg pose?
It’s difficult to work out exactly what the museum’s reasons were for refusing the order. Public places have a duty of care towards visitors in terms of ensuring their safety, but this particular action seems both extreme and nonsensical.
There is the possibility of the child choking but, if this was the fear, then no food at all would be served.
What did the HSE have to say?
In its ‘crackpot cases’ report, the HSE said that the actions of the museum had no basis in health and safety and that ‘whatever the reason for the museum’s decision not to serve ‘dippy’ eggs, it would be better if they were transparent about this, rather than incorrectly justifying the decision on health and safety grounds.’
This liberal, or downright incorrect, use of health and safety laws is a common problem for the HSE. Whether it’s public trips and falls, accidents at work or other areas, Judith Hackitt, chair of the HSE, is adamant that companies should have to explain their policies, rather then hiding behind the health and safety veil.
Public accidents can be unnerving so it’s good to know that Accident Advice Helpline will be there every step of the way for a slip or fall claim. Call free on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone for free, no obligation advice about making a claim.
Date Published: December 11, 2013
Author: David Brown