Nativities scrutinised by health and safety rules


It is the season for Christmas concerts, carols and Nativity plays. Shepherds may figure heavily in the Christmas story, but you do not get many actual modern farmers minding their flocks, at night, on a stage.

But it is the duty of parents and grandparents, where possible to attend these events.

Even when it means, as in this grandparent’s case, driving many miles to be there. Still, you cannot put the price of diesel on these things. Or at least that is what I tell John as he grumbles about me once more filling up with diesel to drive to yet another festive event.

Recently we have had to complete a range of risk assessments on farm activities.

All part of the health and safety culture which is I suppose a necessary, although irritating, part of working life. So it was with great amusement that during a medley of carols and traditional songs, two rather officious young boys in Jessica’s class marched up onto the stage to signal a halt to the proceedings.

Every carol apparently contradicted not only health and safety guidelines, but also ethical and moral ones too. For example, in the Rocking Song where baby Jesus is wearing a coat of fur, this was not only seen as inappropriate clothing for a small child, but also presented an allergy risk. Plus, in order for a child to be rocked by anyone other than his parents, a Criminal Records Bureau check needed to be carried out and three forms of identification to be produced.

Dashing through the snow on a one horse open sleigh was deemed totally unsafe. Plus permission was needed before going onto landowner’s fields and the size and weight of passengers risk assessed in order not to put an undue strain on the horse. Shepherds should have CCTV cameras to watch their sheep rather than risk getting a cold out in the open fields and dark glasses issued to protect eyes potentially damaged by the shining light of the glory of the angel of the Lord.

More interruptions occurred during our rendition of Little Donkey. Not only was the donkey demeaned by comments on his stature, but he would require a nose mask to stop him sneezing from the dusty road and an additional RSPCA risk assessment for the weight of his heavy load.

It did not stop there. A practical suggestion followed that the three kings might find it more useful to plot their route by RAC route finder or use a sat nav in order to arrive in time for Jesus’s birth. Guidelines on regular food and rest breaks for both donkeys and camels came next. Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer presented the last health and safety issue.

Discrimination not only occurring because of personal comments on the colour of Rudolph’s nose, but also the threat that he might be excluded from any Reindeer games. The final straw, or bag of hay, was the threat of a full investigation. Bet you never realised that Christmas was so fraught with danger.