An "epidemic of excuses" has led to health and safety laws being used to prevent people from doing "pretty harmless things", a minister has warned.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said "common sense" must instead be encouraged and unpopular decisions should not be concealed under the guise of health and safety legislation.
Grayling was responding to a release by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of the top 10 most "bizarre bans" linked to health and safety that it has found over the past year, all of which it stresses have no basis in official regulations.
Among the events of activities that were restricted or at risk were the closure of Murray Mount at Wimbledon, as it was found to be wet, and a ban on street parties to mark the Royal Wedding, both of which were publicly mocked at the time.
Other rules questioned by the HSE included a ban on kite flying on a popular tourist beach, banning children from playing football at school without a sponge ball and preventing children from participating in sports day sack races.
The government said the "ridiculous" bans uncovered by the HSE had no basis in official regulations and betrayed an "obsession" with managing minor risks in heavy-handed and bureaucratic ways or complying with stifling restrictions imposed by insurance companies.
In response to the HSE report, Grayling said: "Health and safety laws exist to provide important safeguards against people being seriously injured or made unwell at work and should not hamper everyday activities. These regulations are intended to save lives, not stop them.
"Middle managers in councils and companies should not try to hide unpopular decisions behind health and safety legislation. People must acknowledge these myths and continue to challenge them."
The government expressed concern that misconceptions of health and safety law drew attention away from real workplace risks that put people in genuine danger.
Ministers have appointed Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, a risk management expert, to carry out a wide-ranging review of health and safety legislation and report back in October with proposals to consolidate the law.
Head of policy at the CIEH, David Kidney said: "It is right that the occasional foolish and phoney health and safety decision by a company or a council should be exposed and challenged.
"But we must not to throw out the baby with the bathwater by giving so much attention to this fringe group of decisions that we undermine the strong and sensible health and safety record that we have.
"It is a record that saw workplace fatalities reduced to an all-time low just two years ago."