Kite flying, schoolyard games and sports day sack races have all been hit by an “epidemic” of health and safety excuses, which should be challenged by the public, the Government has stated.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “We have seen an epidemic of excuses wrongly citing health and safety as a reason to prevent people from doing pretty harmless things with only very minor risks attached. This has to stop. The law does not require this to happen – people must be encouraged to use their common sense. “Health and safety laws exist to provide important safeguards against people being seriously injured or made unwell at work and should not hamper everyday activities. These regulations are intended to save lives, not stop them. “Middle managers in councils and companies should not try to hide unpopular decisions behind health and safety legislation. People must acknowledge these myths and continue to challenge them.”
Ministers voiced concern that misconceptions of health and safety law drew attention away from the real workplace risks that put people in genuine danger. Health and safety legislation was generally focused on the workplace, dealing with risks such as unguarded machinery, unsafe work at height and exposure to toxins such as asbestos, said the government.
A review of health and safety legislation, carried out by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, will report to ministers in October with proposals for consolidating or simplifying existing statutes.
Falls from heights
Serious injuries and death are still, tragically, far from uncommon caused by working at height. Many of these serious injuries and deaths result from falls from 20-30 feet or less.
In a recent health & safety prosecution case relating to a Barnet wholesaler, an employee died due to a fall from a stepladder. It is all too easy to consider that such regular activities as work on ladders do not require a safe systems of work. As falls can have such devastating consequences, use of ladders and working at height are some of the most important things to be aware of. In this case, the deceased was working as a handyman and was instructed to build some shelving in the storeroom by the site manager. He fell and upon inspection of the stepladder it was found to be in poor and inadequate condition. The wholesaler has been fined and the HSE state that this type of risk is clearly foreseeable, and a full site-specific risk assessment and plan should have been undertaken.
In addition to working on ladders, other types of tragic accidents at height commonly involve working on roofs, which can contain loose tiles and skylights, which may not be immediately visible.