Banning frilly socks at a Gloucester school was a ‘bizarre misinterpretation’ of health and safety rules, the Government has said.
It has issued a new ruling blocking ‘nonsense’ health and safety rules such as the ban at Kingsholm Primary School last year, which was highlighted by the Citizen.
Health and safety minister Mike Penning has called for a common sense approach from councils and schools after a spate of ‘ridiculous excuses’.
He picked up on the incident at the city school in which headteacher Jan Buckland banned children wearing the frilly socks made by mum-of-three Tracy Rudge for fear of them becoming a tripping hazard.
She created them for her seven-year-old daughter Lily-Jo and her school friends.
In the last two years, the Health and Safety Executive has received almost 300 complaints from people who claim they have been fobbed of with bogus excuses.
Mike Penning said: “Enough is enough. Health and safety has long been used as a smoke screen by jobsworths who have little knowledge of the law and who want to fob people off with an easy excuse.
“I want all councils and schools to take advantage of this advice to make sure we get the right balance in the future.”
Tracy, of Sebert Street, said: “They never did prove that frilly socks are dangerous. The schools these days try and tell parents what to do with their own kids.
“I’m pleased that someone has had some common sense. I hope the school will actually listen because recently they even banned frilly hair bobbles. It’s ridiculous.”
Judith Hackitt, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive, said: “I would urge all decision makers to take a step back and ask themselves whether a decision made in the name of health and safety, is actually just an excuse for something else.
“Real health and safety is about protecting people in the workplace from life and health threatening risks.
“Own up to the real reasons behind the decision, don’t just reach for the easiest excuse.”
Other ‘bizarre’ bans from around the country have included a school preventing a pupil from bringing in a baby chick for his presentation due to concerns about spreading bird flu.
In another area, small wooden canes protecting daffodil bulbs were ordered to be removed in case someone tripped and fell in the flowerbed and one council banned dog shows from being held in community halls.