A HARRY Potter-themed health and safety guide has slipped up by failing to get permission to use JK Rowling’s characters.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) earned itself a mild, Professor McGonagall-style rebuke for an oversight that might cause even accident-prone house elf Dobby to wince.
In the Hogwarts’ Guide to Health and Safety, RoSPA sought to popularise workplace safety advice by using a series of references to the Harry Potter series.
The guide compared working at heights with riding broomsticks and handling hazardous substances with potions classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The advice was illustrated with pictures of Harry Potter holding a wand, the Hogwarts Express locomotive and a crystal ball.
The guide urged company directors to follow Hogwarts headmaster Professor Dumbledore’s example in focusing on “behavioural management techniques” to keep the school safe.
It also recommended Hogwarts’ ethos of hard work, comparing the school’s Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests, or Newts, with the real qualifications issued by Nebosh – the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health.
However, Warner Bros, which polices the use of Harry Potter characters, was unimpressed by RoSPA’s inventiveness. A spokeswoman said it would like any organisation using the boy wizard “to speak to us beforehand”.
She said: “We handle matters on a case-by-case basis, and on this one have decided not to request changes to the blog.”
A spokeswoman for RoSPA said: “It was an oversight that we did not seek permission from Warner Bros to use its characters in our workplace safety blog.
“We have spoken to Warner Bros and are delighted that on this particular occasion it decided not to ask for any changes to the blog.”
RoSPA’s use of the characters is the latest of a series of potential copyright infringements surrounding Harry Potter.
They include legal action taken three years ago against a Swiss condom brand for allegedly naming their products Harry Poppers, after the boy wizard. The packet had illustrations of a condom wearing round glasses and waving a magic wand.
Warner Bros was reported to have said at the time: “The image of my client is in danger.”
In 2009, the company issued a warning over copyright infringement to a London restaurant that planned to serve dishes from the Harry Potter series as part of its Halloween celebrations.
In 2007, an Indian court fined the organisers of a Hindu festival some £30,000 for using images from the Harry Potter books and films without permission.
Penguin India took action on behalf of JK Rowling and Warner Bros over a shrine to honour Durga, the Hindu goddess of valour, which was decorated to resemble Hogwarts School and featured stills from the films.