Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Health and safety. Is it time we did something about this ‘industry’?

We regularly read of cases where our way of life is being changed by health and safety for the worse, where things we have done and enjoyed largely safely as far back as living memory recalls are suddenly curtailed or banned.

The latest case is that 4 in every 10 employers will no longer make any contribution to a works Christmas bash. This used to be a perk that many enjoyed. Now apparently companies are shy of being sued because over things going wrong where they have made a contribution.

Bonfire celebrations, traditional charity races, Christmas lights, annual festivals, traditional celebrations events, private activities, amateur pantomimes, shows, flower shows, etc., etc.

The costs in complying with OTT rules, the vast number of man-hours used up in committees and assessments for every aspect of life. The huge sums spent employing health and safety experts. All this has gone too far.

No one would argue that we should not take care and try to be safe, but there is a reasonable limit. Too often this appears to be exceeded. Take things too far and dramatic as it sounds, you are in danger of having a greater detrimental impact on how we live our lives than the threat of terrorism.

It seems to be a combination of excessive backside covering by officials and businessmen afraid of being sued, or jailed. Using H&S as an excuse. The cost of complying with inappropriate H&S requirements. Plus a tendency on the part of those doing an assessment to want to find something just to show they are doing their job.

Carried too far Heath and Safety turns from a benefit into a curse that saps the spirit and enjoyment out of life and changes the way we live for the worse.

It is impossible to legislate all risk out of life and probably bad for society and the individual in the long run. Those who believe it is have good intentions but are misguided.

3 comments:

PJ said...

Couldn't agree more. It's not health and safety that's to blame, it's the blame culture that we live in.

ben said...

Hi Phil
I made a post at http://www.sheqafrica.com/blog/ben about the same issue. I can however confirm that here in Africa, Christmas parties are still going strong!
Regards
Ben

Phil A said...

PJ, I think on reflection Health and Safety, as we now seem to experience it is, at least in part, a symptom of the blame culture.

But it is not just that. There also seems to be an element of obsession/fear of any risk combined with it - plus maybe a hint that it is, somehow not fair to suffer misfortune and the ‘victim’ (always a victim) should be compensated in some way.

You see it in health fascism as well, but no matter what one does, how healthy a lifestyle one lives, sooner, or later, somethingwill get you.

It’s like the old joke. Follow all their rules and you don’t live that much longer – it just seems like it.

Ben, I don’t think the Christmas party is actually extinct yet here, or even the office version. I must admit I have never been particularly keen on office parties myself.