Health and Safety Gone Mad?

If you listen to certain parts of the media you might be forgiven for thinking that we have a culture of health and safety fanatacism in Britain where well-meaning bureaucrats aim to eliminate even the slightest risk from our everyday lives.

We’ve all heard the stories in the last few years; pin the tail on the donkey is too dangerous, you can’t throw out sweets at a panto, graduates can’t throw their mortar boards, concert goers have to wear ear plugs, pancake races are banned, children have to wear goggles to play conkers… the list is endless.

The truth is that these stories are all myths which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirm are nothing more than over-zealous reporting on the part of the media, so you can rest assured that all of the above activities are perfectly legal.

More sobering is the announcement by the Prime Minister David Cameron that he intends to “reduce the burden” of health and safety, aiming to;

1. Establish clear and specific principles about when health and safety legislation is appropriate, and when it is not, to evaluate whether existing or future legislation is necessary, and;

2. Propose practical changes in the law to both bring an end to the culture of excessive litigation while at the same time giving legal safeguards to those who need them most.

While any aim attempt to cut red tape is to be applauded, the concern is that by stripping away laws which are in place to protect people, lives may be endangered.

Over the last 20 years Britain has been able to build a series of sensible health and safety laws and regulations with the sole aim of preventing avoidable accidents.

It remains to be seen whether they will all survive but it is hoped they will – after all, as the HSE say, health and safety is about saving lives, not stopping them.