A boating friend who lives in Oxford sent me the following tale. As a single-hander myself I generally welcome assistance at locks but if a boater prefers not to have help he or she should just say so and not call upon spurious "health & safety" or "insurance" rules.
You'll love this! I was cycling to my allotment this afternoon and happened to be passing the Isis lock at the bottom of the Oxford Canal when I noticed a 70-footer entering the lock. As I was in no rush I stopped and noticed that the boat was single-manned, so being a helpful sort of chap I went and sat on the top gate and when the boat was almost in started pushing it closed. To my amazement the boater, far from being grateful, asked me to desist. He explained that because of "Health & Safety" rules if I were to trip and fall or injure myself pushing the lock gate he would be liable and he wasn't insured for "third party" compensation.
Well, that hasn't put me right off helping short-handed boaters, but I'll think carefully before offering my assistance next time. In fairness he had no idea that I'd been handling locks on-and-off for 40 years and I might indeed have come across as a well-meaning idiot, but how the culture has changed since the glory days of the 1970s!
Of course, it's possible said boater genuinely believed he could be held responsible for someone else's mistakes and if so, it's a sad commentary on the way we now live.