Health & Safety myths busted

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For years, those of us working in the Personal Injury Compensation sector have been blamed for all sorts of things such as schools no longer allowing conker matches, refusing to take kids on out of school trips and even for local village fetes being cancelled!  We knew all along that this was a load of old cods wallop, but at last, it seems that these myths have been busted and that the Personal Injury professionals are innocent and that those responsible are over-zealous “jobsworths” health and safety ‘experts’ (and I use that term loosely!).

An article published today reports that The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published what it calls “blatant examples” of businesses, schools and individuals using the term ‘health and safety’ as an excuse to avoid doing just about anything.

The HSE has used it’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel to highlight innacurate and misleading claims that health and safety rules mean that certain activities, services and other events cannot continue when no such rules exist.

This has been a long time frustration of mine and colleagues.  The truth is that any event can continue, even if accidents have happened in the past.  What is important is that lessons are learned when accidents happen and that event organisers take every reasonable step possible to ensure that steps are taken to reduce as far as possible the chance of an accident happening again.  The teacher that banned children from playing with conkers was clearly bonkers!  Kids have smashed each others conkers to bits for years.  If a bit of conker goes in a kids eye, who in their right mind is going to hold the school liable or try to make a Personal Injury compensation claim about it?  The claim would never succeed anyway as there is clearly no liability!

The Myth Busters panel have been reviewing cases brought to their attention since April of this year and picked a top 10 from the submissions received about decisions made by insurance companies, local authorities, employers and others.  Indeed, HSE Chief, Judith Hackett confirmed “the panel had seen some blatant and disturbing examples of people using health and safety as an excuse in the last few months, ranging from a smokescreen for a whole host of unpopular decisions to completely nonsensical interpretations of what the law requires.

“We’re tackling these jobsworths and their lame excuses, which trivialise the real work of health and safety. The real task is to prevent death, serious injury and ill health caused by work.”

This is very welcomed by us.  Let’s clamp down on the real hazards and negligent attitudes so that people actually take health and safety seriously, rather than as a joke and something which gets in the way of real life.

TOP 10 ‘HEALTH AND SAFETY MYTHS’

  • A boot supplier claimed that it was banned from accepting dirty boots for return
  • Cafes and restaurants refusing to heat up baby food
  • A golf club told players that golf buggies were not health and safety authorised
  • A hospital refused the use of a microwave on a ward
  • A gym-goer was told he could not lift weights without wearing trainers
  • A woman was banned by her boss from wearing sandals in the office in summer
  • A passenger was refused a blanket on a flight but told she could buy one
  • A campsite banned sleeping in a camper van
  • A primary school’s treehouse had to be located away from the premises because of a risk to children
  • A council banned a nursery teacher from taking children to an allotment

Source: Health and Safety Executive

The above list highlights all that is wrong with the perception of Health & Safety.  No H&S practitioner would see any reason why the above should be refused, although lifting weights without shoes on is a bit daft, it’s hardly a massive issue!  The real problem lies with the myths about the compensation culture and our media being all too keen to portray claimants and claims companies/solicitors as over-zealous and ready to sue about anything.  People then believe this and start taking unilateral decisions – like banning conker matches!

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