When did Health & Safety become a bad thing?

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It’s weird isn’t it… Health & Safety is a good thing. Surely, we all want to be safe and healthy? We all want to take risks at times, but in the right place. I love extreme Snowboarding and am well in to surfing for example and some of the back country snowboarding hikes and rides I have done are not safe. I knew that when I did it and took the precautions I could to minimise the risks.

But it seems that in 21st Century Britain, Health & Safety has become something to be derided and spoken of as a dirty word or subject. It doesn’t help of course, to hear stupid stories of Head Masters banning children from playing conkers due to the ‘worry of being sued’ or of School Teachers no longer organising field trips in case there is an accident and someone is injured. Stories like this are something cherished by many elements of our printed press. The truth is that the Head Master was wrong. You can’t be sued for letting children play conkers. There is an inherent risk of injury (albeit pretty minor!) in playing conkers and I know that none of our Solicitor Panel Members would pursue such a claim. Also, Teachers won’t face any action as long as they have taken steps to properly asses the risks of any trips that they are organising. For example, if a school wants to run a ski trip, they need to make sure that they have the correct amount of staff to pupils and that they accommodate the children in a safe hotel – which has passed their own countries safety tests – and that the children are in ski lessons with fully qualified instructors. If they do this and little Johnny was unfortunate enough to break an arm whilst falling on the piste or on some ice in the village, the school would not be liable at all. So where is this negative hype about Health & Safety coming from?

Years ago, many working men were killed or injured at work or suffered terrible ill health or terminal illness because there were no requirements on employers to provide a safe environment for their staff. Is this what we want to return to? A working environment where staff are exposed to the risk of Industrial Deafness because the employer doesn’t have to provide ear defenders? Or an environment where workers can cut their fingers off on machinery because there is no requirement to provide training or safety guards?

The truth is that we should laud the protections that our elders fought for and cherish the fact that the UK is a very safe place in which to grow up, work and live. If you don’t like it, you could always move to China or India and work there, where people still suffer from terrible illnesses and injuries through simply trying to earn enough money to survive.

Don’t blame the compensation culture for Health and Safety issues. Blame the media for hyping the bad examples of decisions made in the name of Health and Safety and don’t let our government wind back the clocks to the dark ages where the safety of the individual comes after the profit margin of the wealthy employer.

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