A number of media outlets have reported today (Wednesday 18 May 2016) that a university plans to ban their students from throwing mortar boards in the air on graduation day for health and safety reasons. HSE has provided a response to this age-old myth:
Geoff Cox, who heads the Health and Safety Executive public sector team, said: “You’d think universities would study history and do a bit of research before repeating tired health and safety myths like this one. The banning of mortar board tossing on supposed ‘health and safety’ grounds is one of our most popular myths and actually appears in our Top 10 all-time worst health and safety excuses.
“As far back as 2008, HSE made clear the law does not stop graduates having fun and celebrating their success in the time-honoured fashion. The chance of being injured by a flying mortar board is incredibly small and it’s over-the-top to impose an outright ban. We usually find the concern is actually about the hats being returned in good condition.”
The university later clarified its position and the tradition will carry on. Good news!