Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Health & Safety

I read in the Sunday Telegraph  that "the government plans to make an all out assault on the burdensome Health & Safety Laws".
I wish this would happen, but I suspect that it never will and that they will just tamper at the edges in view of the huge number of vested interests that there are in keeping them. As a start there are all the Lawyers who are making a comfortable living out of them, particularly by suing (or threatening to sue), and they are always very good at defending their own positions, particularly if their earnings are threatened. Then there are all the others employed in the Health & Safety Industry throughout the country. Most companies employ people to ensure that the company is safe, local councils and government employees employ lots of people, not only to protect the Council's interests, but also to stick their nose in other people's businesses. Just think of the unemployment that would result if people were actually allowed to use their common sense!
But then many councils and indeed other organisations don't use Health & Safety rules to protect people, they use them as an excuse for not doing something, or as a reason why you should not do something. Indeed, H & S combined with Data Protection are a perfect excuse for total inaction by local councils!

I feel that if someone believes that there is a health and safety risk, they should be made to quantify it. Nothing in this world is without risk, I take a risk every time I get out of bed (and probably a bigger one if I stay there).  The Head Teacher who banned a girl wearing a "Help for Heroes" wrist band on H & S grounds should be asked to explain exactly what the risks are, or risk being sued for infringement of the girl's human rights (yet another law designed to encourage inaction, particularly by police forces). Do any of the teachers or pupils wear wrist watches; surely these would be a far greater risk!
As for the two PSCOs who stood by and watched a boy drowned because they had not had the appropriate H & S training, I just can't imagine that they are fellow members of the human race. Even with my advancing years and total inability to swim, I'd have tried to do something. If it was too deep, I'd have looked for a flotation aid, possibly a fallen branch, or even my waterproof anorak which I'm told could hold air.
When it comes to this type of situation, and other "Good Samaritan" types of action, we need immunity from prosecution if someone acted reasonably, unlike at present when people are encouraged to do nothing for fear of being sued. Perhaps we need laws like in France where it is actually an offence to fail to do your best to assist someone in dire need of help.

I hope for the best from the proposed changes, but fear for the worst!

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