You're right, Crimediver, to point out the folly of central government, or their national agencies, when striving to "save us from ourselves", particularly when any risk involved is hardly life-threatening.
The problem, however, often lies with local authorities charged with upholding such regulations. I remember how, when I was in my teens during the early 1960s, nobody batted an eyelid at the local public swimming pool when I put on my fins, mask and snorkel. Nowadays the same pools in England not only ban diving masks but snorkels and fins as well. Health and safety legislation is invoked by the pool attendants or they justify their ban with a reference to other swimmers' welfare. The upshot is that I swim in the sea instead and the city pool where I used to go on Saturday mornings in my youth is threatened with closure.
Some health and safety regulations here in England have become something of a laughing stock. A notable example is the traditional game of "conkers", which schoolchildren here play in the autumn months. Conkers are the product of the horse-chestnut tree. A hole is bored through the hard, inedible horse chestnut then a piece of string is threaded through the hole and knotted. The object of the game is to break the other person's horse chestnut with yours:
Well, one public official was said to have decreed that children must put on goggles when they play conkers because their eyes would otherwise be at risk.
The story may be an urban legend, but the damage was done, even when the health and safety authorities insisted it was all a hoax.
So one set of regulations stops people from using eyewear, while another appears to require its use. This is what can happen when national bodies insist on "prescribing" and "proscribing" things instead of simply "describing" them in enough detail to give the general public the wherewithal to make up their own minds. The simple objective of German Standard DIN 7876 on swimming fins, which I summarised in aother thread, was to encourage manufacturers to emboss on the sole of their fins the maximum length and width of the foot pockets in millimetres, a much more accurate guide to foot fitting than the rather unhelpful and vague "XL" or "EU 44-46" or "US 10-12" labels that actually grace fin soles. On SCUBA forums, there are too many messages asking "which size should I buy online?", all because manufacturers won't provide the necessary information themselves.
Having argued that the provision of the internal dimensions of fins would assist purchasers, I'm now going to contradict myself by querying why BS 4532 on snorkels and face masks and snorkels insists that the sides of diving masks, marked length "A" in the drawing
"shall not exceed 80 mm." Note the use of "shall", rather than just encouraging the manufacturer to provide the mask dimensions for purchasers seeking to find a mask that will match their facial dimensions!
Here's an example of a vintage mask that I very much doubt would pass the "80 mm" rule, and none the worse for that:
It's one of the earliest examples of a single-lens mask, a hand-glued model made from tyre inner-tube rubber. It probably looks odd to modern eyes with its long wide flanges on both sides of the head ending in straps with a buckle positioned at the back of the head. This would have been the home-made prototype of Cressi's commercial "Sirena" mask, sold for over thirty years:
It came in three sizes, "piccola" (small), "media o normale" (medium or normal) and "grande" (large), priced respectively at 600, 700 and 800 Lire. I found a picture of a young snorkeller (the one on the left!) in 1959 wearing what looks like a "Sirena" in the French edition of the Wikipedia article about dive masks.
Note those enormous side flanges that must exceed 80 mm. All of which made me wonder whether this curious mask design had some mileage nowadays when there are still people complaining that they can't find a mask that fits their face properly and won't leak. Today's low-volume masks look as though they come with hardly any skirt at all to seal against the face. They're not labelled with identifiable sizes either.