Health and Safety: Saving Lives, Not Spoiling Fun

Browsing the web, I read an interesting news article in The Express newspaper called, ‘Health and safety madness’: Shoppers warned to beware of falling flowers.

This was another article which gave health and safety an awful press in the UK. The image is of pedantic pencil-pushers fretting over minor issues to generally stop people having any fun at all. Interestingly, as stated here, health and safety:

… has only “gone mad” in people’s perceptions, rather than in the rules. He said: “Now we see officials blaming things on health and safety that in fact have nothing to do with it.

“Things like making children wear safety goggles to play conkers or taking hanging baskets down in case they fall and hit someone are good examples.

“People do sometimes use it as an excuse.”

I agree with the general point that the article is trying to make which is that in reality health and safety (H&S) regulation has brought our society massive benefits. Examine, for example, road casualties: Figures for reported deaths, serious injuries and slight injuries have generally decreased since 1966. Since 1992, the ten-year drop in killed or seriously injured casualty numbers reported to the police, compared with the previous five-year average, has been about 40%.

Why is the overall trend downwards? It’s the enforcement of regulations which make wearing seat belts compulsory, the fact you can’t drink and drive, the implementation of speed cameras plus many other laws which people have made fun of over the years. The article also mentions fire regulations and the smoking ban in England too – all highly preventive in terms of saving and improving the quality of lives.

So in reality H&S has made our lives and workplaces better and we need to acknowledge this rather than citing isolated cases of, “health and safety gone mad.”

Read the guidance published, use a degree of common sense and interpret the regulations practically and you won’t go far wrong. I say, hurray for H&S: it has made the UK a more civilised place.

What do you think? Health and safety, a help or a hindrance?

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