Health & Safety Executive introduce panel to investigate misuse of rules
The term “health and safety” is generally seen in a negative light in modern society. For most people it creates an image of yellow tape and over precaution, often leading to fear about everyday activities. The Health & Safety Executive, in order to try and reduce this misconception, have introduced a “myth buster” panel. To investigate and collect information on cases where health and safety has been misused.
The panel received 300 complaints to date relating to the apparent misuse of health and safety. These complaints vary in their context, although they have a common theme, namely being absurdly dramatic and illogical in their application. In one case, donkey rides at a beach were cancelled due to a scare that beach goers might be injured and another report noted that a Frisbee catching competition had been dropped by a dog show, due to fears that a dog could potentially be hurt. These cases, and many more like them beg the question, is this to protect others or are people protecting themselves?
It is more likely that the complaints within the report are individuals using the term “health and safety” as a means to cover their own backs. It appears that in these cases, the use of common sense has not been applied and it is apparent that these rules have been imposed by individual’s taking the decision, not from the HSE.
The purpose of health and safety regulation is to protect workers from hazards and injuries at work, and is a serious issue that is still being addressed.
Health and safety minister, Mark Harper, commented “Real health and safety exist to protect Britain’s workers, and not to be used as a smoke screen by jobsworths who have little knowledge of the law and who want to fob people off with an easy excuse. If there’s a genuine reason for preventing something then it’s time the real reason was given”.
This point was reiterated by the HSE chairwoman, Judith Hackitt, who said “Health and Safety has become an all too convenient excuse, which means the law is being applied disproportionately or more often than not entirely erroneously. If there’s a genuine law or your insurance provider doesn’t cover it then own up to the real reasons”.
The comments above go some way to explain the situation regarding health and safety. The media focus on “health and safety gone mad” in recent years degrades the hard work that is being done by the Health and Safety Executive, to reduce injuries in the workplace.
 “Health and safety panel exposes misuse of regulations” The Guardian Online, http://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/aug/25/mark-harper-warns-jobsworths-health-and-safety, 2014
 “Petty rules ‘give real health and safety a bad name” Andy Mcsmith, The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/petty-rules-give-real-health-and-safety-a-bad-name-9688650.html 2014
 “Health And Safety Rules Prompt 300 Complaints” Sky News Online, http://news.sky.com/story/1324345/health-and-safety-rules-prompt-300-complaints 2014