DOORMATS have been outlawed by Thurrock Council as part of a health and safety crackdown.

Residents of council flats in South Ockendon were told they had seven days to remove the mats from outside their front door or they will be fined.

The council say this is because the mats present tripping hazards.

The residents say its health and safety gone mad.

One man who did not wish to be named said: “Is the council going to pick up the cleaning bill for my carpet now that I can’t wipe my feet anymore?

“Its crazy but really funny at the same time, its health and safety gone mad.”

He added: “A few of my neighbours have said they wont give up their doormat and they don’t care if they get fined.”

The council made the decision after carrying out one of its regular risk assessments.

It has cited the recent fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell in July 2009, where several people died, as an example of the importance of health and safety.

Council spokesman Andy Lever said: “South Ockendon Housing Office has sent letters to tenants advising them to keep the communal areas clear and to remove any items that belong to them including door mats.”

“The council has adopted a blanket policy to avoid any confusion.

If asked, tenants are being advised they can put the mats on the inside of their front doors, but they should ensure it is not a hazard. It will also consider any individual cases on their merits.”

He added: “At first, it might not be thought a door mat could be a risk, but in a fire, when the corridor may be dark and full of smoke and people are in a state of panic, it is possible someone could trip or slip on a mat and fall.

“People following might then fall over the first person. It has happened before in fires. Such risks have to be considered and appropriate action taken to reduce or remove such risks. Depending on the block and location of front doors, we may require the removal of door mats.”

What are your thoughts about this?

Have the council gone too far or is it better to be safe than sorry?

Add your comments below.