Has health and safety gone too far?

Why has health and safety gained such a bad reputation?

PPE conkers playing

Wear PPE when playing conkers!

Health and safety is frequently the subject of scathing media coverage but what could really be the problem? Certainly the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforce health and safety legislation however there are other stakeholders who can have a significant influence on how health and safety is managed. Stakeholders such as insurers, trade associations, unions, customers etc. can place requirements which are way above any legal requirements.

The government has started a review of H&S with a view to removing red-tape but are companies using health and safety as an excuse for poor service. Some organisations are risk averse using the phrase, "Better safe than sorry".

A school hit the headlines recently when it banned the traditional autumn game of playing conkers. Newspapers reported that the school had taken this action 'due to health and safety'. This is a prime example of organisations being risk averse.

The Health and Safety Executive has worked hard over the years to dispel the myths around health and safety. And published a series of cartoons poking fun at these newspaper articles and the myths around health and safety.

falling conkers danger

People walk past the sign put up on a Horse Chestnut tree warning about the dangers of falling conkers.

Most organisations are unlikely to receive a visit from a Health and Safety Executive Inspector and are more likely to receive a visit from an inspector appointed by their insurance company. These inspectors are focused on eliminating risk or reducing risk to the insurer rather than measures which could benefit the organisation and staff.

The effects of misleading, over the top reactions to health and safety distract us from the real issues which are to protect individuals and organisations by preventing accidents and incidents which cause harm.

The insurance industry has a part to play and should make sure its assessors and loss adjusters work within the health and safety regulations that apply.

Next time you hear of an organisation blaming health and safety for not doing something or charging extra maybe you should ask, "What is the real reason behind this?".

We are interested to hear your thoughts.

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