Jobsworths have been warned not to use health and safety laws to introduce "ridiculous" rules after a drive to uncover their misuse discovered frisbee bans and an end to donkey rides on beaches.
Staff at a cafe in Bedfordshire refused to put strawberry sauce on a customer's ice cream for supposed health and safety reasons, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Frisbee catching has been dropped from a popular Cumbria dog show, donkey rides banned in case sunbathers are injured and office workers at an Aldershot company have been told they must not wear open-toed shoes in the summer, according to complaints to the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) "myth buster" panel.
Health and Safety minister Mark Harper said: "Enough is enough. It's time we were all allowed to enjoy our summers, rather than have them spoiled by ridiculous, arbitrary and downright unreasonable application of apparent 'health and safety rules'.
"Real health and safety laws exist to protect Britain's workers, and not to be 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. If there's a genuine reason for preventing something then it's time the real reason was given."
Around 300 complaints have been made to the panel about misuse of health and safety laws.
HSE chairwoman Judith Hackitt said: "I would urge all bosses to familiarise themselves with health and safety law and properly educate their staff. Real health and safety is about protecting people in the workplace from life and health threatening risks - not about refusing to apply suntan lotion, or put sauce on an ice cream.
"Health and safety has become an all too convenient excuse, which means the law is being applied disproportionately or more often than not entirely erroneously. If there's a genuine law or your insurance provider doesn't cover it then own up to the real reason."