The chair of the HSE, Judith Hackitt, has condemned The Sun newspaper for a story about a pub chain allegedly banning staff wearing poppies for ‘health and safety’ reasons (Poppycock, pubs in safety ban on poppies link to external website, p7, November 05). 

Writing to the editor, Ms Hackitt said:

“This continuing trend of bosses issuing blanket orders wrapped up as ‘health and safety’ has got to stop. It is misleading for members of the public to constantly read headlines blaming non-existent health and safety laws for stopping people going about their everyday business and detracts from the real business of health and safety which is stopping people being killed and seriously injured at work. “

She also added that:

“The Health and Safety Executive fully supports the Poppy Appeal, and various types of poppies are on sale to staff in our offices. We all buy poppies to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country, so this disproportionate approach to dealing with a minor risk holds a twisted irony.”

She concluded that while it might be reasonable for an employer to suggest kitchen staff may want to wear poppies without pins (to avoid the risk of contaminating people’s food) to apply this to everyone and cite health and safety as the reason was just lazy and wrong.