Housing officials in UK ban welcome mats over health and safety fears

Thursday, November 25, 2010

LONDON - Health and safety officials in Britain have ordered the removal of welcome mats in communal areas because they are deemed to be a “fire risk”.

Residents received a letter saying they faced legal action if they refused to remove their doormats from communal areas.

Tenants of South Oxfordshire Housing Association branded the new rules “health and safety gone mad”.

“I cannot see someone tripping over a doormat,” the Daily Mail quoted Keith Williams as saying.

“I would just like to highlight how stupid health and safety has got. We have gone beyond commonsense.

“And these things affect everyday life. You have to have health and safety but it has gone to the extreme,” he stated.

In the letter to its 650 residents, SOHA said communal areas have to be kept clear of items such as bicycles, pushchairs, plants, garden furniture, cabinets, mats and non-fitted carpets.

“The bigger items you cannot argue with, but a mat outside your door? I shall leave the mat there and if they want to take it I will have them for theft,” Williams, who lives with his partner Karen Gills, aged 44 years, in Wantage, added.

Lee Hayward, assistant director of customer services, defended the decision branding doormats a “slip hazard”, particularly if a hall is filled with smoke.

“We have a duty of care for all tenants. It is all for our tenants and the vast majority understand that,” he said.

Local Tory MP Ed Vaizey appealed for commonsense to win through.

“In a recent meeting with the chairman of the health and safety executive, she impressed on me that people too often over-interpret health and safety representation,” he said.

“I would urge SOHA to take a common sense approach to this issue.
In the event of a fire a welcome mat is unlikely to be the difference between life and death,” he added. (ANI)

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