Health and Safety: 12 things we did back in the day that we cannot do now

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if we hadn’t introduced so many health and safety rules and laws in this country. Whereas it is important to live in safety I also think we have sometimes gone too far with what we can and cannot do. When I was a child we weren’t so sterilised (eating mud in the garden for example!) and we actually had less allergies than we have now. So when Shields, the Health and Safety training company, asked me to think about what we used to do back in the day that is not allowed today, it led to interesting nostalgic debates in my family.

Here are just a few things that seemed normal in the 1960s/70s that we wouldn’t do (or are not allowed to do) now.

Health and Safety 12 things we could do back in the day that we cannot do now on Kate

1. Playgrounds had the scariest rides back then! Who remembers the witches hat with the whole neighbourhood hanging on (for dear life) and roundabouts that you could easily get your foot stuck underneath? The flooring was tarmac or concrete, without any bounce if you fell. At my school, we had a climbing frame made from scaffolding poles with sheer, vertical drops – and they were really cold so you froze your hands in the winter!

2. Kids could play with what they wanted. Who remembers playing conkers in the playground, something not allowed now as people may get hurt? All ages played with marbles and shot guns with caps, shot stones with catapults and no one cared about toys having small parts.

3. We didn’t have seat belts in the front let alone the back. Who remembers sitting on their dad’s lap pretending to drive at the wheel while he was actually driving! Remember sleeping on the parcel shelf for long journeys? I came back from hospital lying in a carry cot simply sat on the back seat without any protection!

4. Sofas and soft furnishings were never tested to see whether they were flammable or not (they were – and still are if you are buying old)

Vintage Style Hunkydory Home orange cushion on Ercol as featured on Kate Beavis Vintage Home blog

5. Getting a suntan was all the rage, the browner you were meant the more glamorous you were. We slathered on cooking oil to help the process and thought nothing of hiring sunbeds. I remember hiring one for weeks on end in the 1990s.

6. Before straighteners women actually ironed their hair!

7. Everyone smoked, even doctors in hospitals! Adverts showed us how aspirational it was, again it was glamorous with no thought of the risk to our health.

8. Our electrics were less safe without any earth wires – remember this when buying vintage lighting and always get them checked out before you use them!

Vintage lighting by Kate Beavis vintage home - Health and Safety blog

9. Girls shared their mascara solid blocks, spitting on them to moisten it for use. No one thought about eye infections, just beauty!

10. You used to be able to jump on the bus without waiting for it to stop. Apparently buses were more on time back then too!

11. You could eat fish n chips wrapped in newspaper – recycling at its best! They tasted better this way too!

12. We wore the most pointed winkle pickers and the highest platform shoes but were then told they were bad for our feet.

What can you remember doing that isn’t allowed anymore? Have we gone Health and Safety mad or is it all a good thing. When my husband goes off to work in a hard hat and high vis vest I am glad he has rules to follow like this to ensure he comes back in one piece. But I would love to eat my chips from the local paper!

Kate x

The is a brand collaboration with Shields – read more about this in my disclaimer statement.


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