Health and Safety

There are none so blind as those who will not see and that perfectly describes a poster I saw today with the headline "Job Killer" which quotes a statement which David Cameron had made about health and safety rules destroying jobs and businesses, and misinterpreted it as a suggestion that the government is going to scrap all health and safety employment rules.

This is not what the policy is about.

It is not, and never has been, the policy either of the Conservative party or the coalition government that there is no need for legislation to protect the lives and limbs of people doing dangerous jobs.

We have never suggested that there is no need for legislation to protect employees, customers and anyone else who might be exposed to genuine danger if industrial equipment is not maintained in a safe condition with appropriate measures to prevent it from causing such a risk.

Nobody in their right mind would suggest that a facility such as, say, the plutonium containment facility at Sellafield (or the ponds, or any of the other buildings on the site which could otherwise pose a real hazard) should not be the subject of strict rules designed to prevent accidents.

And ditto any job where people are climbing poles or other high structures, or working with dangerous chemicals.

Where the health and safety culture needs to be reined back is not in rules which protect people from genuine hazards.

The problem is where rules which would be entirely right for genuinely dangerous jobs are applied with a lack of proportion or common sense to jobs which are not dangerous on any objective assessment, such as ordinary clerical jobs. Or where vast amounts of effort are spent on trying to prevent accidents for which the risk ranges from trivial to nonexistent.

Let's take speed cameras. The government has not banned local authorities from putting up Gatso or average speed cameras, but has required them to publish the accident statistics for the relevant stretches of road before and after the cameras went in, so the public can see whether they've actually saved lives or not, keep the ones which have indeed saved lines and make a fuss about the ones which are not preventing accidents or doing anything other than getting more money out of motorists.

We do not need the wholesale abolition of Health and Safety rules. We do need them to be applied and administered with intelligence and with a severity which is proportionate for the actual risks.


Nice post, have to agree with a lot of what you are saying here Chris.

People need to put on there sensible head when they considering health and safety.

I find in this country people either get annoyed because health and safety has 'gone mad' or because there is not strict enough guidelines to protect people. There seems to be no happy medium.

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