Health and Safety – Is safe a bad thing?

Published On October 4, 2010 » 7092 Views» Law, Politics

Having heard the Governments rant about Health and Safety, and also been in the position when I have been frustrated at being told I can not do something because of Health and Safety, then I thought it was worth highlighting the issue and the thoughts around it.

Health and Safety legislation exists to ensure that employees work in a safe environment.  Surely that goes without saying.  I did my Health and Safety course at work and some of the statistics out of that were interesting.  So many accidents are simple slips and trips and could be easily avoidable.  Also from a business perspective, the amount of hours lost due to accidents stack up, so anything that can be done to prevent an accident is surely in the business interest.

There are many stories and myths around when it comes to H&S, they invariably start with “My friend works somewhere, where x happened” or the like.  These stories don’t help matters.  Even the HSE recognises this and has a Myth of the month section on their website

Really the problem has arisen, not in the H&S laws themselves, but in the blame culture that has arisen, the Compensation claims and the “no win no fee” has encouraged many to seek the cash when they have an injury.  The problem with this, for every 10 (pick a multiple) sensible claims, there are some considered less than sensible, which the press pick up and report, therefore perpetuating the myth that H&S is just nonsense.

However, these claims have made employers take the H&S problem seriously, and more importantly made them invest in it, and made workers much safer in the work place.

Another issue is the type of workplace, my work is largely office based,  so we are talking about seemingly minor things like spilling coffee on the stairs, moving my own IT equipment, however, think of the construction industry,and things like hard hats, steel toe cap boots etc..

When you look at the actual H&S legislation, it is quite high level and really it is down to the individual business to interpret it for its own workplace, and it is then monitored on how it keeps up with its own monitoring.

The Million Pound question is what is more important, the health, and lives, of the workforce, or the perceived injustice of H&S legislation?  Or is the question about how to ensure the H&S is enforced correctly and not used as an excuse by people to not do what they don’t want to do.

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5 Responses to Health and Safety – Is safe a bad thing?

  1. Barry says:

    Thanks for the link Eddie, that just shows how H&S law is being used incorrectly.

    They are probably right that they should not have lifted them (lets face it they did not know what was in them, therefore how heavy it was) but rather than the approach taken, If the council had informed residents, or the workers had just knocked on the door when they came across them, then it could have been sorted easily.

    It is exactly issues like this that proves the point that its not the H&S Law that is wrong, but people using H&S Law as an excuse!

  2. bazkirby says:

    But again, Id say its not the H&S itself but the silly application of it. Lets face it, the Hospital should never have done that for a minor risk, its overkill.

    Its the fear of litigation that is the problem, but there has to be a balance between prosecuting real/bad hazards and throwing out “silly” claims.

    We have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater..

  3. Will says:

    Ok Ok…. So are Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers ( assuming one is middle age) would be turning in their graves if they knew that the evils, they endured to win the two World Wars had come to THIS. This what do you mean by This…???
    I mean we seem to be loosing are responsibility for our own actions. Sorry Chaps and Ladies lets blame someone else when we ‘ Don’t mind the gap’ when we step off the tube. If you can’t be accountable for your own actions then nature will take it’s course and regress the development of humans rather than progress. For example, the other day I was told off by our Child’s Village school for allowing lighted sparklers at their Bonfire night to be in the hands of my 5 year old( Woops sorry I was standing to the left of my child having done my ‘natural common sense’ or do they call it ‘risk assessment?? . I don’t blame the disciplinarian who told me off but I do the legal system that has allowed it to get to this. Yes life is tough but how can a child develop if it does not know or start to understand the dangers of life at a simple level in this scenario. You are going to make it a lot tougher for a child later on in life if they have been so sheltered that they can’t overcome or fight those challenges, that we all have in life until we reach the grave.
    It is that simple, Is it not? However where does this bring us onto Health and Safety? I Believe that ‘The health’ and ‘The Safety’ of any individual or group of people is paramount, Yes Excellent. However I believe Greed and a week legal system has allowed people to sue parties/individuals out of hand, which has meant a knock on effect of having stupid Health and safety Laws out of proportion for the Health and safety of Humans. May I therefore ask the reader that the actual problem lies in the legal system in the first place to have allowed or allow these ridiculous claims, coupled with Human Greed, which I am sure we are all guilty of? The boundaries have been pushed too far. Would this be correct or have I completely got this wrong. Discuss!

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