Hanging baskets decorate houses, streets, pubs and public buildings throughout the UK and are popular in other countries such as the US and Canada. However, with the growing focus health and safety due to the risks of them falling on passers-by this article asks should they be banned? Over recent years there has been a growing trend for the "health and safety gone mad" newspaper story which typically focuses on a local council or public organisation that has implemented new rules. It is certainly true that in the age of "no win, no fee" compensation claims that individuals as well as the public and private sector have to consider the risk of causing or contributing to an accident. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone asked - do hanging baskets pose a risk if they were to fall from the front of a pub or the local library and hit someone on the pavement? In 2004 and according to the UK's Health and Safety Executive website in a town did take down its hanging baskets over fears that the weight on it's old lamp posts would make them collapse. This caused an uproar and the hanging baskets were reinstated and the lamp posts remained intact. In 2009 a local council banned them from the high street on the basis the regular watering of them posed a risk to the workers. Another uproar and another spell of brief media attention on the subject. Later in 2009 a Housing Association banned them as well as pot plants from the outside of a block of flats on the basis they could pose a threat to people down below. Anyone who didn't comply had their plants confiscated and a charge of 25 levied for their safe return. Whilst there are no reported instances of "death by hanging basket" there was an instance of one falling on someone's head in Bury St Edmunds. As a result, the risk of this is something that councils and organisations have to consider in the same way they would consider any other health and safety risk. If you consider a fully planted 16" hanging basket can weigh around 5 kilos when fully watered which is something that needs to be properly secured and maintained. Heavy duty brackets and fixing kits using appropriate screws and plugs are essential to avoid any mishaps. Over time chains and frames can become corroded and need to be replaced if this is the case. In summary, the UK Health & Safety Executive is keen to point out that the "ban" is a myth and that any previous "bans" have typically been the work of over cautious and over zealous offiicials. However, the story about the ban on hanging baskets persists and is a favourite "health and safety madness" story in the papers. Hanging baskets do need to be secured properly but provided care and attention is paid then there is no reason to ban them from the streets of the UK or anywhere else.
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