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Does health and safety need reviewing?

08:26 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

The government is promising to check the "growth of compensation culture" by setting up a review of health and safety laws. What is your reaction?

Lord Young will investigate concerns over the "application and perception" of health and safety legislation and the "rise of the compensation culture over the last decade."He said he hopes his review will "reintroduce an element of common sense" to the rules.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was time for "a sensible new approach" which did not "overwhelm business with red tape". But unions have warned against attacks on rules that protect staff at work.

Have you been affected by health and safety rules at work? Have the rules encouraged compensation claims? How much do health and safety laws protect people?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Does health and safety need reviewing?`

    Society's attitude needs adjusting.

    Stuff happens.

    You are not entitled to a cash payment for every piece of bad luck that befalls you.

    Even if it does land you in hospital.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Health and safety and compensation are a plague on this country.

    Everytime somebody blows their nose in the public services they have to fill in a risk assessment tick box.

    The last government and the courts are equally to blame.

    I have no doubt that while the Whitehaven massacre was going on, police and emergency services where checking their health and safety rules.

  • Comment number 4.

    A few years ago at a school I taught in, I agreed to run a session on survival cooking skills at a residential camp for a class of 15 year olds.

    So we cooked on the open fires - much to the chagrin of the teacher. And then the kids came to eat the food off of large leaves.

    "why haven't the kids got plates, or knifes and forks?" demanded the teacher in charge.

    "Erm, well, thats the whole point about survival cooking" I ventured, being as how I was an SAS trained survival instructor. "And why are the kids only cooking vegetables, why no meat?" She again demanded.

    "Erm, well, given that they are inexperienced at this kind of cooking, in my judgement it is safer to let them just use vegetables, to avoid the possibility of food poisoning" I again explained.

    "well, I am not happy with this" she screamed. "They can't eat with no plates or cutlery - health and safety doncha know" and with that I was dispatched from our 'jungle' site (a bit of forest in a Scout Camp) to the nearest Sainsbury to buy paper plates and of course, some meat!

    Needless to say - thanks to 'Elfin Saftee' I never offered my services to a school again.

  • Comment number 5.

    A return to commonsense would be a welcome change. H&S has become a litigation business these days rather than an advice service for a safe working environment.

  • Comment number 6.

    Whereas Health & Safety laws/rules are good where needed, they are also just plain daft in other areas.
    Many schools do not have any sports day in their school week because of the fear of being sued by money-seeking parents if a child hurts a little finger.

    It really does need to be looked into and in depth.

    Get rid of the nanny rules and fear.

  • Comment number 7.

    The laws were brought in with the best of intentions, and since their inception the number of work-related injuries have fallen dramatically. The main problem appears to be that they are often interpreted too zealously or rigidly, rather than taking a commonsense approach. But we should not be suprised at this - as a society we have become far too risk averse, seeking to eliminate any and all possible risks no matter how slight or remote. Every time there is an incident, the public cries "SOMETHING MUST BE DONE". Something has been done and now we cry "YOU DID TOO MUCH". It's a game that is impossible to win! On top of that, we have become almost as litigous as America - it is no wonder that town councils, for example, go to extreme lengths; it is because Mummy will sue them for tens of thousands of pounds if little Johny falls over in the playground and has a bruised knee.

  • Comment number 8.

    About time! Health & Safety and the compensation culture are a blight on the taxpayer with the real winners being lawyers.

    These dreadful 'ambulance chasing' adverts sicken me. Only a greedy and cynical Labour government could conjure up an industry out of nothing that creates a business for bloodsucking lawyers and solicitors. By default, personal responsibility was removed and the dire Nanny State took over.

    The only reason Labour introduced this dreadful state of affairs was to raise taxation. Look at the lawyers bills - three letters appear at the foot of these bills - VAT and this is the REAL reason Labour created this blight on our lives - to raise taxation.

    Health & Safety is needed, yes, but in moderation and without the blooksucking ambulance-chasing lawyers in hot pursuit. I welcome this review and really hope it goes far enough to eradicate this dreadful situation we have.

  • Comment number 9.

    The best thing that could be done is to bring back personal responsibility.

    I I sign a piece of paper saying "I understand the risks" then if I have an accident there is no one to blame.

    Too often I am not allowed to do this because of H&S laws - nanny state trying to protect people from themselves and removing personal responsibility.

  • Comment number 10.

    Having done a course on it, I'm inclined to say there is a lot of good health and safety stuff for offices and workplaces - stuff to do with lighting, temperature, quality of seating and all that jazz. Most of this stuff isn't a problem.

    What IS a problem, is this new perception that there is no such thing as an "accident". There always has to be someone to blame and pay. Perhaps we need a legal definition of accident?

    When schools are too scared to teach PE incase they get sued and people are suing the workplace for not training them to carry papers or use step ladders I think it is pretty clear we really do have a bit of a problem.

  • Comment number 11.

    Health and Safety law is NOT responsible for the blame culture. Rich lawyers are.

    Identifying the cause of the problems and not the symptoms would indicate that risk assessments are common sense safety management tools, whereas they have been turned into "safety protection contracts". Many parents will follow a mental risk assessment before driving their children to school when walking is probably safer in many cases. Do their children have a moral right to sue parents if an accident happens on the school run because they certainly have a legal right?

  • Comment number 12.

    I've literally met people who gripe about this kind of thing, yet they're desperately hanging on for their insurance payout - Because they've done something like slipping on a floor they themselves mopped and hadn't yet themselves put out a "floor is slippery" sign.


    I would much rather it was all changed over silently.
    That these people who make such silly claims were rejected and forced to pay legal fees - and denied legal aid.

    Save the complaining, I've already discovered the louder you complain, the bigger the hypocrite you are.

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes, it is complete and total madness now.

  • Comment number 14.

    long over due,time to get rig of this no fault compensation culture

  • Comment number 15.

    Health and safety has become ridiculous due its the over-zealous application by "H&E officers" who have promoted it so as to guarantee them jobs.

    But this is just one of a raft of regulations that are strangling businesses. Intrastat, government statistical surveys, data protection registration, ISO, ineffective consumer credit rules, dozens of different taxes, companies house requirements, maternity leave, environmental regulations, discrimination laws, SSP, and on and on and on.

    No wonder we can't compete!

  • Comment number 16.

    Yes - absolutely.

    There's too much of a blame culture now where accidents always have to be somebody's fault and compensation paid.

    Compensation should only be paid if something is proven to have been done deliberately.

    It's human nature to make mistakes and I agree that the policy should be changed so that people are not automatically entitled to compensation.

    Why is it always about money?

  • Comment number 17.

    People need to be empowered to use logic and common sense in risk assessments, and to understand that however careful you are, accidents do happen.

    Even more importantly, people need to understand that an accident is just that - something that is NOT caused deliberately, and for which nobody is 'responsible' provided that reasonable precautions have been taken. The law of tort provides an adequate test of the role of 'negligence' and is well worth a look even if, like me, you are not a lawyer.

    The rise in 'no win no fee' lawyering needs to be curbed, as it has contributed to the 'something for nothing' culture that plagues us.

  • Comment number 18.

    The one thing that has always been apparent to most people is that "life is not without risk", as experience with our obsession for H&S has shown. You cannot legislate risk out of existence, if you want life to be without risk, you won't get out of bed and even there is dangerous.

    Its noticeable that as soon as anything goes wrong people look for someone else to blame, then its get someone found to be liable even though they all say that "no amount of money will make a difference" once liability is established then its sue for damages. What do you expect if you allow ambulance chasing and no-win-no-fee.

    It's time people clearly understood that they and individually only they are the people most responsible for their own safety.

  • Comment number 19.

    Change is needed. Local councils have enough money troubles without being sued every time someone falls over. There is so much money wasted on having to hire poeple to not only deal with claims but to walk the streets looking for every loose paving stone or loose tree branch. How about use some comman sense and look where your going and not blame it on the council!! And these same people who sue their councils complain about high taxes, where do you think your compensation comes from??

  • Comment number 20.

    Health and safety is there to replace common sense in the many that lack it. It is these people that would be prepared to sue for slipping on a banana rather than walking around it.

    Although, it is odd that the courts favour the "victim" in these cases. Everybody knows a ridiculous compensation story.

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree that the Health & Safety brigade have gone crazy. You only have to look at the ridiculous rules in schools and work places to know that.

    However, there needs to be some compromise. Any review of the law may make H&S too lax, serious thought needs to be applied to decide which risks are allowable and which aren't. We all know business puts profit before everything else and we can not afford to let big business cut corners on people's safety to make a few pounds. You know they would do that in most cases if the balance sheets justified it.

    Overall common sense is what is needed and that is very difficult to legislate for.

  • Comment number 22.

    Its nothing to do with Health and Safety its the greedy idiots and legal cronies getting money out of firms and individuals ; this has got to stop before we all stay indoors never daring to come out !! get a life

  • Comment number 23.

    My gut reaction would be to review it due to the "Nanny State" factor.


    No review is necessary. The litigation culture needs review, not health and safety. You reap what you sow.


    I work in light industry and the HASAWA is essential to the well-being of our workforce, myself included. Safety at work should be inculcated from day one and no company has an excuse for not encouraging a strong culture of safety awareness. Workers respond well to Health and safety initiatives, it breeds confidence and pride in the workplace.

    So the unions have got it right, no slackening of the health and safety regulations in the workplace. As for the issiue with local government and some of the extreme byelaws we have seen, its simply a reaction to the litigation culture.

    As usual, the politician making the call for reviewing health and safety has got the wrong end of the stick. No surpise there, then.

  • Comment number 24.

    Two things we need to do:
    a) If someone wants to quote 'health and safety reasons' for restricting or insisting on anything they need a personnally signed handwritten letter explaining the restriction/requirement the reasoning behind it from the head of the health and safety executive - this will dramatically restrict the number of these statements, most of which are not based on any thought out reasoning or health and safety requirement.
    b) Second, if someone spills coffee down themselves and takes a shop to court, or slips on mud in a school and takes the local authority to court, or walks into a door on a windy day because they don't have the brains to hold the door open these people are locked up as a danger to society and have their entire assetts confiscated to pay for the waste of court time and the destruction of our lives. I was recently told my son couldn't have a look on the footplate of a steam engine 'for health and safety reasons', apparently he might 'fall off' or 'bang his knee'... what cobblers, if he did he would learn a valuable and useful lesson.

  • Comment number 25.

    of course!it interferes with the pursuit of profit, it is costly to the business fraternity it slows down production and gives workers a bolshi disposition.one has to take risks when one is making money,ofcourse people will somtimes be involved in accidents mostly of there own making but thats life.profit is the goal,without it we would not be creating work.cammeron should repeal all the health and safety rules and regs, infact get rid of them all together.it would create a positive business enviroment.also scrap the minimum wage, carn't afford it, simple as that.it cuts into profits no good at all. you will not keep the business man happy without the exceptance of these principles, look at it this way, the POOR won't miss what they have never had but the rich man and woman WILL, i will say again sound tory polices.UP THE CAMERONS!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    The rules and laws need reviewing, but I don't think that will make much difference. Our attitudes need to change.

    Too many people are ready to blame others when things go wrong. If I break an arm chasing a cheese down a hill that is my fault not the organiser's. If my child damages their eye through playing conkers in the playground, that is not the fault of the school.

    This is not written in legislation. It is case law that has defined fault. Litigation has been overused and case law has resultantly found someone to blame and to pay up when, more often than not the individual plaintiff is at fault. The stupidities we see of slightly risky actions being banned is not because of the nanny state. It is all our faults.

  • Comment number 28.

    There are really two separate issues in this. Firstly there is legitimate Health and Safety - stopping workers losing limbs in machines, preventing roofers falling off roofs and so on. No reasonable person could argue that this isn't necessary or important. Left to themselves most employers will cut corners or turn a blind eye, especially in areas like construction and farming, and people will die as a result.

    Unfortunately this has been overshadowed by the compensation culture where people expect a payout, often accompanied by the inevitable counselling, for any trivial misfortune which befalls them. This has led to the lunatic risk-averseness of public authorities which is frequently, and wrongly, blamed on "health and safety", a situation made all the worse by deliberately misleading media reporting. This sort of nonsense needs to be seen for what it is - bureaucratic stupidity run riot - before the genuine and necessary efforts of legitimate health and safety professionals are undermined.

  • Comment number 29.

    3. Bradford wrote:
    Health and safety and compensation are a plague on this country.

    Everytime somebody blows their nose in the public services they have to fill in a risk assessment tick box.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rubbish!

    As a Health & safety Officer I am all to familiar with those who criticise 'elf'n'safety. They do it as a knee-jerk reaction, promted by the press.

    Lets get one thing straight right at the start.

    THE PROBLEM IS THE LAWYERS.

    You cannot eliminate risk, it's with us allways. A lawyer says 'if there is risk, their is liability'. So no matter how remote, anyone suffering any 'injury' can claim. The truth about claims need to be told:

    MOST CLAIMS FAIL; LAWYERS GET THEIR MONEY THROUGH COURT COSTS WHICH ARE EXCESSIVE. LAWYERS JUST HAVE TO THREATEN LEGAL ACTION AND GET PAY-OFFS TO SAVE MONEY.

    Local Authorities do not want to be exposed to the threat of court costs so it is often easier (and cheaper) to ban something, than take any other action.

    As for the accusation that too much H&S costs business money, ask the question 'How much is enough profit' You cannot answer this as there can be no limit on profit.

    So why arn't business men drug-dealers; they make 1000% profit?

    It's illegal, so is not taking 'due-care' of your employees.

    But it's also morally unacceptable, so is not ensuring that your employees, and members of the public, are not harmed by your business activity.

    Lets look at some numbers:

    500,000 people (approx) die every year, most through natural causes.

    220 (approx) die in accidents at work (half the number of 30 years ago)

    50 of these die from falls from height, the biggest single cause.

    40 people a year die putting on their socks.

    60 adult people a year drown in their own bath.

    People like me are saving this country a fortune.

    Saving money in reducing lost production due to illness.

    Saving money in reducing training costs for lost workers.

    Saving money spent by the NHS

    Saving money spent in legal costs, (try to imagine the field-day the lawyers would have without H&S regulations).

    Most H&S regulations are almost 20 years old. No new significant regulations have been introduced, old ones have been amended slightly in recent yeaars.

    So can we stop the scape-goating?

    This is a message to 'call me dave' leave well enough alone.

  • Comment number 30.

    H&S are necessary to ensure those with responsibilities make the necessary analysis and ensure folk are not put in unnecessary peril. It should not have loopholes that allow frivolous cases to be brought, especially for large sums of "compensation".

    But I'd feel a lot happier if those associated with the Thatcher government didn't form part of anything, given the mess that government made of most things at the time.

  • Comment number 31.

    What needs to be revised are the companies that tell people to make false claims, you know the ones - "Had an accident recently, fell over your own shoelace, sue the manufacturer, you can get up to £10,000".

    Health and safety now makes the individual responsible, there should always be H&S lectures within a company, or if you are self employed it is your responsibility to be up to date.

    The most ridiculous claim I have heard made locally. A painter and decorator with 30 years experience falls off a step up, he successfully sued the company he was working for due to lack of training. This should have been thrown out of court and the claim company made to pay all expenses.

  • Comment number 32.

    Health and safety is very important. At all the businesses I have worked at it is put before all else, which is exactly as it should be.
    However where I don't think the legislation has worked is in it's adverse effect on people's perception of risk. So many events which had added a great deal to society have been cancelled due to the perceived risk attached to it, and the fear that the organisers may be sued if something goes wrong. For example the annual Cheese Rolling competition was cancelled this year because of health and safety concerns, despite the fact that it has been going on for years. People do get injuried, but those competing, and indeed those watching know this.

  • Comment number 33.

    The compensation culture is yet another unwanted import from the U.S.A. which in turn spawned "the injuries claims solicitors",both of which are in need of radical reform.Personal responsibility has been replaced by "can I claim for it"?,and is looked upon as winning The Lottery.

  • Comment number 34.

    Most definitely.

    I was at an open air concert in Glasgow at the weekend. As usual, we were frisked to make sure we hadn't the audacity to bring our own refreshments with us, so that we would have to buy everything inside the ground.

    As we had a 12 year old with us, we were pulled to the side and made to sign liability paperwork before going in. Then we were shepherded all over the place by people with high viz jackets.

    I then bought 2 (extortionately priced)bottles of soft drink from a food vendor only to be told that they would have to remove the plastic screw top lid and keep it. I asked why and they cited Health and Safety, I am still confused about this one. I asked if they were scared I were going to "Lid" someone...

    There were a group of young lads beside us who were obviously VERY under the influence and causing quite a bit of trouble. Being lairy, urinating in cups and throwing it at people and generally being a nuisance. All this time being watched by the High viz mob who did nothing....probably because they hadn't filled out a "situation safety analysis" form.

    The inevitable then happened and a massive fight broke out between the group of lads and another. It was pretty savage in its nature, people on the ground being kicked etc. This carried on unchecked for at least 10 minutes and the scores of yellow jackets were standing back and staying clear. When it was eventually broken up, most of the instigators were allowed to stay in the park. It would probably have breached their rights if they were ejected. I just thank the lord that none of them were armed with plastic lids or things could have been a lot more serious!!

    I travel a lot with my job and I can always tell when I am back in a UK airport due to the amount of signs telling you what not to do and the fact that every second person is wearing a yellow vest. It's too much, it's gone too far and needs reversed. Bring back common sense and self responsibility.

  • Comment number 35.

    No it doesn't. Every example ever given of H&S madness was an small isolated incident that was blown up and exaggerated by the tabloids into a national scandal to sell newspapers to their gullible rageaholic readers. We don't need a review of national H&S legislation just because a few council officials scared of lawsuits decided to make up new rules. Just tell those officials to stop being idiots.

    The real reason for this review is to scrap legislation that business does not like because it costs them money. The health and welfare of their employees is secondary to their profit margins.

  • Comment number 36.

    "But unions have warned against attacks on rules that protect staff at work." Typical Union approach - completely out of balance - someone so much as trips over a paperclip they are there shouting 'foul'.

    Compensation culture is part of the reason the cost of goods has rocketed over the last decade. It sends insurance premiums & VAT sky-high and on top of that are the battalions of Health & Safety Gestapo with their clip boards, sign posts, rules and regulations.

    A couple of years ago, I worked for a company and had to sit through a whole day each year of Health & Safety drivel. The company was a high tech science business and every member of staff had to attend. The staff were predominately PhD scientists, some had achieved many accolades in their field of expertise. I was cringing on this Health & Safety course when we were made to all form a line and walk out of one door and back in through another and step over a batton to demonstrate the body's natural balance point, as if you didn't already know! The days were filled with this mind-numbing absurdity and followed topics such as 'awareness of sharp, pointy objects', slippery floors and 'Did everyone know the telephone number for an ambulance?' No one was ever best pleased about this level of Health & Safety but it took the whole company out for a whole day each year.

    As a new Manager working in finance and for a new company, I had a H&S induction and found that if I were to apply each and every rule & regulation of Health & Safety, there would be little time for me to actually do my finance role.

    I welcome this news of a review but I hope it is not just a smoke-screen and that real change happens to rid us of this compensation, ambulance-chasing culture and reinstates a balanced level of personal responsibility to us all.

  • Comment number 37.

    Most of the problem is caused by ambulance chasing solicitors. People are no longer resposible for their own stupid actions and are encouraged to sue. Whilst schools are sued by parents if an accident happens whilst their little darlings are is the schools care, no action is taken against negligent parents if the same accident happened whilst the child was in their own care. So having more or less health and safety rules would not change the above type of litigation.

  • Comment number 38.

    "2. At 09:20am on 14 Jun 2010, Toxic Tel wrote:

    Same old Tories.Life is cheap."


    Nothing like low level liberal leftie anger!

    Smile :)

  • Comment number 39.

    I understand that Health & Safety Regulations are in place for good reason and to protect from Injury etc. However, I do feel that things have gone slight 'silly' in this Country particularly when in some circumstances, common sense would indicate that there is quite obviously a Health & Safety issue. Unfortunately we seem to have been bitten by the Civil Litigation Bug to try and claim compensation for the slightest infringement.

  • Comment number 40.

    2. At 09:20am on 14 Jun 2010, Toxic Tel wrote:
    Same old Tories.Life is cheap.

    As opposed to Labour where life is extremly expensive, petty-minded and removes personal responsibility, and imposes a Nanny State on us. Let's not kid ourselves to Labours REAL motive with not just Health & Safety but every other law they have imposed upon us and that is to create armies of non-job, non-productive workers and to tax us to the hilt to pay for them.

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't think its fair to lay the blame on lawyers, they were just taking advantage of the courts who would order enourmous payouts for just about any case put in front of them.
    I expect that the huge majority of cases of compensation do not involve any ambulance chasing.

    Laws need changing.

  • Comment number 42.

    It depends how it's done. I think most would be in favour getting rid of H&S rules which restrict what people can do for no obviously good reason. However, it's also important not to go back to the days when life was cheap and workplace deaths were seen as inevitable in the quest for profit. The challenge in any reform will be to scale back the over-protectiveness without allowing genuine dangers to go unheeded.

  • Comment number 43.

    I heard that the French have a much better government Health and Safety department. None at all.

    Seriously, whatever happened to common sense? We have to put warning signs on everything and treat everyone like a moron in order to cover ourselves against personal injury claims.

    Sometimes I feel like we're only a short step away from labelling every lamp post in the country with a sign that says 'Warning! Immobile metal object, do not walk into."

  • Comment number 44.

    This country is now a Nanny state and not only with H&S.
    If you pay immigrants, prisoners and terrorists massive amounts of compensation what the hell do you expect.
    I have worked for 52 years payed my stamp but what have I got at the end of it all - £60 a week pension. The whole system requires nukin'.
    Give the money to those who have worked for it and to hell with the rest.

  • Comment number 45.

    As soon as a law is introduced it puts responsibility (enforcement) on people. So the net result is that people will rather not allow something to take place for fear of being held to account.
    Wind back to the good-ol-days you were responsible for your own actions.

    People will still wake up one day wondering what it is like to lick a plug socket.... and hence natural selection (something which has been in force far longer than any government policy) will sort things out.

    If you make it from cradle to grave without any knocks and scrapes along the way you might as well have not lived at all!

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    I cannot believe many of the comments on here that Health and Safety is linked to a compensation culture. Health and Safety is about just that. Keeping people, particularly working people, safe and healthy. This myth, because that is what it is, that Health and Safety law is preventing things like school sports days or kids playing conkers are just rubbish. It may be that schools, councils or other such bodies are using H&S as an excuse not to do things, but I suspect this is just a simple excuse that is used to cover other reasons.

    Health and Safety law is vital to the wellbeing of working people in this country, sometimes despite themselves. Do you think that, without Health and Safety law, that everyone on a building site would were a hard hat for example. There will always be some fool who thinks they don’t need one, or that they are too hot and ends up seriously injured or dead as a result.

    To remove the H&S laws would be to open the door for employers to cut corners to save money on things like ventilation, proper breaks, protective equipment and a host of other things. This government really is showing its true colours with this move. No concern for the welfare of ordinary people just money and profit, that is their only motivation.

  • Comment number 48.

    Health & Safety rules have become so extreme that we even hear of cases where people have been prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others have either been told not to or it has been part of their training not to get involved - personal choice and compassion for a fellow human being totally eradicated from our society, largely because of Health & Safety and the consequences and 'fallout' from later investigations.

    I deplore what Labour have done to the UK and the hideous results of their nanny state governance.

  • Comment number 49.

    The problem with the current level of Health and Safety regulations is that it stop people thinking for themselves. Plus the red tape is used to stop small businesses from winning contracts as the cost of compliance is excessive. All we want is a balance between safe and workable

  • Comment number 50.

    I am sure just banning no win no fee lawyers would probably go a long way to help the situation. Many people will be put off attempting to claim for something ridiculous if there was a chance they would have to pay thousands of pounds if they were unsuccessful.

  • Comment number 51.

    Health and Safety is getting ridiculous and expensive. For example; for every nurse on the NHS there are 2 people doing admin and one health and safety 'officer.'
    Again as proved in recent cases health and safety on the NHS doesn't work, think Stafford, so to say it protects us is a load of rubbish.

  • Comment number 52.

    It is obvious that Health and Safety laws were intended to reduce the rate of accidents mainly in the construction industry and provide better compensation for industrial accidents generally. However, the laws were an open invitation for all manner of claims and a rich vein for the legal profession to exploit. Therefore the laws do need some modification and clarification to take account of life's unavoidable risks and accidents.

  • Comment number 53.

    It's not H&S that is the problem but the "jobsworths" and insurers who spend their time looking at the negatives. Anyone who watches sfternoon TV cannot miss the adverts for "ambulance chasing" legal firms. The first priority should be making that practice illegal.

    Having said that the media are no better. They immediately sensationalise any accident. For example, my local newspaper's front page story on Saturday was about a boy who had fallen off a see-saw in a playground but had managed to fall outside the area of bark chips. Immediately the parents are looking to blame the local authority. The way the story was reported and the quotes published made it look like it was all the authorities fault.

    Perhaps we are all to blame for allowing the idea that all risk can be taken out of our lives?

  • Comment number 54.

    Whether it is the Laws that need reviewed or whether something needs to be done to clamp down on the litigious aspect of our culture I am not sure. What comes to mind however is a certain advert for a compensation company involving a worker blaming his company for giving him the wrong ladder, I am 25 and have been on 2 health and safety courses as well as being taught health and safety in relevent work at school (Metal Work, textiles, cooking etc) and I have always been taught that, yes the company needs to check it's equipment but the user is also responsible to make sure he/she HAS the right equipment and it IS in good order before blinding going about their job.

  • Comment number 55.

    Nothing wrong with H&S what is wrong is compansation paid everytime. its got to stop lawyers are making a fortune, if you stopped these parisites making any money out of claiming it would soon stop.

  • Comment number 56.

    Health and Safety rules are required, spend a single day on a building site for instance and you will see this, however what is needed even more is common sense and that is what we seem to have a shortage of in this country. Too many petty bureaucrats who fear common sense.

    The whole compensation culture is yet another unwelcome export from America where people with no common sense blame others for their own stupidity. eg. "Caution Contents May Be Hot" on coffee cups - DUH!

    The other thing we must realise, depite what some companies state, is that accidents do happen..........

  • Comment number 57.

    Others have also said this - it's not the Health And Safety framework itself that is to blame, it is the culture around it and in particular the legal and insurance businesses. If the compensation culture was limited to *proportionate* payments for genuine cases of hardship rather than as a way of making a quick buck (saying this as someone who spent 5 weeks off work after being cut up on my bicycle by a transit van driver who didn't understand the use of mirrors or indicators or in fact his own limited brain). I got a small payout but the driver wasn't prosecuted - so no loss to him personally. I would rather, TBH, that he would have been forced to learn from his error than I got any money, but that's not the way it works.

    Limit the payouts and the insurance industry will lower it's premiums and soon organisations will be able to hold public events without being told that their insurance costs will cost exceed whatever charity money they intend to raise. This assumes that insurance companies are then legally required to chanrge fair premiums and not act as a cosy caretl, but that's another debate.

    Also, another cultural shift would be to expect a level of personal responsibility - once this was more explicit in legal actions, again payouts would drop and the cost to society would also drop rapidly.

  • Comment number 58.

    Eight (8) BILLION pounds has gone out of the NHS alone over the last 5 years in 'compo' payments. Only three (3) billion pounds got to the 'compo' claimaints, the other five (5) billion pounds went to the 'compo' industry (ie lawyers). Its a business boys, this has to be tightend up and I say about time. At last it will not be looked at through the Loonie Left rose coloured glasses

  • Comment number 59.

    Accidents happen in the home, workplace & elsewhere. They are frequently the result of individual stupidity or carelessness. H & S legislation has been well intentioned but in common with everything else over the past 60 years produced a catastrophic drop in personal responsibility and willingness to be held accountable. The growing belief that somebody else is always responsible for mishap. bad luck & misfortune let alone individual incompetence is killing this country. In the end we all suffer except for the lawyers. I get regular calls from lawyers wanting to know if I've had an accident and wish to make a claim against somebody. Society has become absolutely pathetic.

  • Comment number 60.

    Aside from its necessary and obvious needs in the worlds of work and industry yes it does. It has become all pervasive, a killjoys charter, the tentacles of this nonsense have inserted themselves into all manner of harmless fun and games. It's time to clearly define the limits of what should be covered and what shouldn't. We are all paying for this, seems like a good place to start cutting to me. Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 61.

    The Health & Safety regulations are long overdue being sensibilised! They should apply only to Inustry and big business and not to ordinary citizens daily lives and leisure activities.
    Please do review these regulations, amend them in favour of common sense and legislate against those law firms who are making big money through bringing about a culture of fear of being sued.
    For example my parish church has an excellent parish centre which, about 8 years back and before, ran some excellent activities where the ladies of the parish prepared food in the parish centre kitchen for functions. All really enjoyable. Then a parishioner, a Healthe & Safety Officer, gave a general talk on Health & Safety. From that day the Parish Pastoral Council ran scared and dismantled the kitchen and the enjoyable functions were no more. Why, because they were afraid of being sued if someone caught food poisoning - despite the fact that over many previous years of enjoying good home cooking by the ladies of the parish, no-one has ever suffered from food poisoning. Nor could the parish afford to insure against such an event happening - so they closed the kitchen!
    Many other parishes, aware of the H&S regulations, simply ignored them and got on with their parish life. Good for them!
    Yes please do something to bring common sense to the health & safety rules so we can all get back to doing ordinary things without worrying about health & safety legislation.

  • Comment number 62.

    It has nothing to do with the Health and Safety rules/laws etc is has to do with how organisations interpret them that needs reviewing. If this is what the review is all about, then yes it is a good thing. I feel though it is another way of stopping 'joe public' claiming what is rightfully theirs when an accident happens. As for Lord Young, another Tory comes out of the shadows claiming that £8m was paid out by the NHS in claims, you want to ask what those claims were they?. They were claims related to medical blunders, cleaners not putting signs out indicating wet floors etc. etc.
    They don't need reviewing, they are valid claims. Things like stopping school children wearing earings just in case one might get ripped out, or schools closed because the entrance is slippy... THEY are the things that need stopping.

    We have had 2 months more or less of this coalition and I have yet to see any real urgency to tackle this deficit. All I hear is what they are going to cut (so far) and it's all Labour's fault and that 'joe public' as usual are going to suffer.
    This isn't progressive government, this is the usual conservative government of the 80's

  • Comment number 63.

    currently it allows people to wonder around in a state of daydream having no responsibility for their own well being because unless there's a sign to say "don't run in front of the bus" they'll do it and claim for not being told...

    They should change it so that if the person could resonably be expected to avoid it with their "own" duty of care then compensation shouldn't even be considered. Half the problem is the "ambulance chasers" no win no fee vultures.

    As for the "stress has ruined my life" what a laugh!!!! If you are injured thru stupidity on your own part sorry but you only have yourself to blame.

  • Comment number 64.

    It certainly needs enforcement!

  • Comment number 65.

    There would be a solution to all this in banning no-win no-fee legal work. Legal aid could be provided where justified to replace it.

  • Comment number 66.

    H&S legislation is there to ensure that the employer and employees work in a safe environment. There is requirement for the employer to provide a safe working environment and for the employee to follow the correct procedures.
    The important point is that H&S is about assessing and managing risk. It should be called Risk Management, H&S implies you can create a risk free environment, which is impossible. Risk Management in a chemical works is different to what would apply in an office.
    As previous HYS posters have said, the fear of litigation, driven by the notion that there is no such thing as an accident, someone has to be to blame, is what is driving some of the nonsense laid at H&S legislation's feet.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm not sure health and safety LAW needs reviewing. It's peoples' interpretation of the law that goes OTT.

    Really, a lot of it comes down to fear of being sued. It's not just the risk of losing a court case, but simply the cost of being sued, even if you win. Insurers should be more willing to take cases to court, rather than settling out of court, and courts should be more willing to find against the claimant if the level of risk was reasonable for the activity.

    To be honest, I expect the courts ARE reasonably sensible - in my experience the problem is just that insurers will settle out of court, even if it's obvious the insured wasn't at fault - just to avoid legal costs. This encourages more claimants and so on.

    Insurers should be more willing to stick up for themselves rather than just settling out of court and putting premiums up.

  • Comment number 68.

    Part of the problem is that H&S is taking the place of common sense and looking out for yourself. Yes, it's a good idea to protect workers from stupid, careless or greedy bosses and colleagues who'd cut corners and ignore training, but this has engendered a culture of blame and produced a whole slew of ambulance chasing solicitors who incessantly advertise on some daytime TV channels.

    As the old saying goes "s*** happens", you cannot legislate against every eventuality and, if you try, it imposes unreasonable (some would say impossible) restrictions on everyday activities. People need to take responsibility for their own actions.

    It does no harm to let people experience the potential dangers of living. 50+ years ago I was a scout and my father the scout master. We thought nothing wrong with letting 11 to 16 year olds use naked fire to cook, hand and felling axes to cut the wood, sheath knives, rope and all those other dangerous goodies. And not a pair of goggles, H&S inspector or accident lawyer to be seen. Protective clothing - shorts and a pair of plimsolls. I cannot remember a serious accident, we had respect for the tools and were taught how to use them safely. Yes there were always the odd minor cuts and abrasions, but they were just an excuse to practice for the first aid badge, not start a court case!

    So yes, in principal H&S is a good idea, but badly and over zealously applied.

  • Comment number 69.

    Life is not without risk.....

    However H & S legislation is not there to nanny you but to protect people from unreasonable risk. Since H & S legislation came into force our workplaces have become much safer and employers can no longer continue with unsafe practices. Much of the criticism of H & S legislation is incorrect in that there is nothing to say that playing "conkers" is a problem (for example) it is just a rule made up by a headmaster who has incorrectly applied H & S rules. Indeed when I was a charge nurse in a large Emergency department our H & S dept insisted we had a first aid box on the wall and had a trained first aider on every shift as these were the "rules". I pointed out that we were an Major Emergency Department seeing nearly 200,000 pt's a year and as such had 5 resus bays, 10 major bays, a fully equiped minors area, a consultant, 2 registrars, 4 SHO's on every shift and 10 qualified emergency nurses so felt it was a tad pointless sending several staff on a first aid training. Again it was insisted that these were the rules. I therefore contacted the HSE direct and was reassured that our local management employee was misinterpreting the rules and that it would be pointless to put a green box on the wall in the ED or send a consultant on a first aid at work course (although I did toy with the idea for a minute!).
    We must not forget that the compensation culture is a learnt behaviour and it is fuelled by businesses actively seeking claims to pass to solicitors to action. Remove the adverts from tv and change the rules on claims farming by solicitors and their agents to address this rather than blaming H & S.

  • Comment number 70.

    The - Compensation Culture - has become one of the most ridiculous and unwarrented scourges of our time.

    All we can do in our lives really is breathe and that is debateable - Don't clear the snow - Don't move - Don't play with your children - don't talk to anyone what a crazy situation - Rammed down your throats every day - No Win / No Fee - what have we become !!!!

    This is a crazy situation and the sooner it is abolished - the better !

  • Comment number 71.

    Definitely, at the moment someone can know they are doing something wrong and when they get hurt can sue their employer. That is madness. People have to take responsibility for their own actions. If we don't change things now we are going to end up with us becoming like the USA where anything that goes wrong must have a culprit who you can then sue. I run a small business and it costs me a fortune in time and insurance to cover all the stupid regulations that Health and Safety have brought in in the last 20 years, enough is enough. It's time to apply some common sense and review the lot.

  • Comment number 72.

    tipicle toreis looking for a reson to cut NHS budget ,blaming others rather than those who make the mistakes that lead to compansation claims ,next blaming to many people using the roads to get to work causing traffic jams , travelers expecting trains to run on time or even run on bank holidays ,
    the final will be oters for nopt giving them a bigger majority so they can do as they want and not what the people want

  • Comment number 73.

    People need to get a grip. There's too much based on myth and misunderstanding, on boh sides. I encourage everyone to visit hse.gov.uk and get a clue about what is actually legislated for, and what is myth - just like the one about not being able to fly England flags.

  • Comment number 74.

    Common sense should apply. Why get rid of hanging baskets on lamposts as some Councils are supposed to have done?
    Cars kill about 10 people a day, yet no one has got rid of the car...

  • Comment number 75.

    This area clearly needs a review. There is a lot of stuff that is valuable and a lot that is not. The purpose of the review is not to ditch H and S in its entirity but to sort out whats worth keeping and whats not. This problem has not been caused by lawyers (although they have not been slow to use it); it has been caused by over-regulation by the last Government (and the EU)

  • Comment number 76.

    To try and explain what a 'risk assessment' is.

    You go into a friends house, they have a large dog which appears friendly, licking your hand. Do you pat the dog? yes.

    You go into another friends house, they too have a large dog, the dog growls at you. Do you pat the dog? no.

    You have just made a risk assessment.

    You identified the hazard - dog bite.

    You identified the likelihood (risk) of being bitten - fist dog low, second dog high.

    You took no preventative action for the first dog as the assessment was low risk. You took preventative action for the second dog as this was high risk.

    It's not rocket science, is it?

    You wouldn't pat the second dog and if you did you wouldn't sue your friend for letting the dog bite you. But that is what is happening with lawyers and H&S regulations.

    As has been said on here many times H&S is mainly just common sense.

    It's always the lawyers.

  • Comment number 77.

    29. At 10:08am on 14 Jun 2010, JohnH wrote:
    3. Bradford wrote:
    Health and safety and compensation are a plague on this country.

    Everytime somebody blows their nose in the public services they have to fill in a risk assessment tick box.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rubbish!

    As a Health & safety Officer I am all to familiar with those who criticise 'elf'n'safety. They do it as a knee-jerk reaction, promted by the press.
    Lets get one thing straight right at the start.
    -----------------------

    I'd gathered you were involved in H&S JohnH... the very fact that you wrote an essay just to make a very simple point, just confirms Bradford's comment about excessive form filling and reporting, something that you are obviously very used to.


  • Comment number 78.

    H&S Rules creating a younger generation capable of nothing
    other than playing computer games

  • Comment number 79.

    Health and safety legislation is not the problem, though it's an easy target for the rabid press. Almost every daft story that has come my way attributed to Health & Safety has turned out to be a case of risk aversion heavily tempered with fear of litigation. Far too many personal news stories seem to be about attributing blame elsewhere even when it's clear that the complainants have their own (often large) share of blame.

  • Comment number 80.

    I would imagine that the friends and families of the 200 or so people who died as a result of going to work would wholeheartedly disagree with this.
    As far as I can see, the "mountains of elf n safety legislation" that have been introduced by the last government is merely a molehill - the majority of which is the updating or combining of already existing pieces of legislation.
    All of the issues that we have are down to us. WE want something for nothing so WE are prepared to sue to get it. The legal system allows us to do it. All of the scare stories - goggles for conkers etc - are just that, scare stories. But people use the health and safety excuse because they either can't, or won't, manage their activities.
    Finally, for all those bashing the last government for all these issues, just bear in mind a couple of points.
    Firstly, most of the current health and safety legilation was introduced under previous conservative governments and
    Secondly, no win no fee lawyers were introduced by the conservative goverment to save the ammount of monet being spent on legal aid.

  • Comment number 81.

    People are now too reliant on things being safe this cost my ability to work when I wrongly assumed safety switches are red or yellow but the German firm who had made the machine used black.

    Part P must be the worst of the rules where Electricians working in commercial premises can no longer do the odd job on domestic and as a result many more true DIY jobs are being done well below standard.
    It has also seen a massive increase in the use of extension leads and must be causing more accidents as a result.

    With minimum charges from councils in the £100's no one in their right mind is going to register changing a single to double socket in a kitchen and pay the council more money to be allowed to do the work then the whole job cost.

    It is completely OTT.

  • Comment number 82.

    As usual, many of the shock-horror stories about H&S, like those about "EU regulations", have long-since been proved to be complete lies, started by a local paper's misunderstanding or joke, repeated by the Sun and Mail, corrected in the local paper when proven to be untrue but remaining uncorrected in the right-wing rags. And of course endlessly repeated as if true by the right-whingers on here. Remember straight bananas? Bet some of you still think that's true, don't you. Returning to H&S - look at the HSE "myth of the month" pages, and see where the stories come from. Now think WHY they come from right-wing sources. Who HATE the idea of paying for workers' safety? Right, big business. Now who are the papers owned by right-wing, off-shore or foreign billionaires with massive UK business interests? RIGHT!
    The wretched Mail columnist Littlejohn even managed to use the recent shooting tragedy in Cumbria to get at health and safety. Police "prevented paramedics" from intervening. Yet whcih press would have shrieked the loudest had the paramedics been told to rush in regardless and then been gunned down? You couldn't make it up? You do.

  • Comment number 83.

    I am not sure the laws themselves need reviewing just their intepretation by those who think everything can be risk free.
    Simply the laws should protect others from those who put money before lives and the stupidly reckless whilst at the same time demanding a little common sense from those involved.
    E.g. forbidding public service people like the police to go to someone's rescue because a H&S risk assessment has not been carried out leaving members of the public to carry out the rescue is just as wrong as ordering a police officer to deliberately risk his life. Common sense should play a part. Unfortunately the law does not make any allownace for common sense and justice only the letter of the law.

  • Comment number 84.

    The fact that the BBC website also carries a story today warning that we're all going to die as a result of contaminated windscreen washer fluid suggests that a review of H&S issues is long overdue.

  • Comment number 85.

    Most Health and Safety rules are sensible. But there seems to be a legal precedent emerging where guilty people get away without punishment for their reckless behaviour.

    An example being car drivers who run cyclists over, if the cyclist isn't wearing a helmet then the car driver is let off the charge. Why? a cycling helmet does not prevent death or injury when hit by a car. They are only effective in low speed tumbles (under 15MPH).

    The list is endless, if you're not covered in flashing lights, high vis and wearing a helmet then somehow a driver is innocent, even if they were speeding, on their mobile phone and so on.

  • Comment number 86.

    Yep, looks like time for big business to cut corners, and make £££! No need to remove cancer causing chemicals from products or the workplace. And get back to work Bob Cratchit! It's never too cold to work!

    Bring back Asbestos!

  • Comment number 87.

    Most of the people obsessed with health and safety seem to forget that health comes before safety,so stopping our kids from playing in the school playground means our kids are turning away from exercise and becoming obese.
    IMO here in the UK we are adding to deforestation problems by using mountains of paper on method statements and risk assessments just to inform people what they should already know.
    All people getting free treatment from the NHS should be made to sign a waiver which would stop them from being able to sue the NHS which after all is funded by all of us and dont forget it's all our monies that the NHS gives away in claims to claimants and the lupine legal teams.

  • Comment number 88.

    I go to a hospital as an outpatient for a scan once a year. I always used to walk barefoot from the changing cubicle to the room where I had the scan. Then new H&S rules were introduced and so that I cannot slip, I have to put shoes back on for the walk, but no-one worries if I don't do the shoe laces up, probably more risky than walking barefoot. It may be interpretation rather than the law, but it is madness. I also think it has become a particular feature of schools and children's play areas, meaning we do not have children who play outside and exercise properly. Laws for work place safety, fine; we have had those for a century. Petty rules controlling people's lives with an army of jobsworthies justifying their own existence, irritating beyond belief.
    Travel to other countries and they just do not have the array of warning notices and petty rules. It is a refreshing experience.

  • Comment number 89.

    Local authorities have given H&S legislation a very bad reputation.

    They have increasingly inhibited freedom and stopped local communties holding fetes and fairs or hanging christmas lights and hanging baskets for fear of ligitation and associated legal costs?

    Yet .... they are quick to spend millions of council tax payers money to fight litigation - as in the Corby birth defect case. Plus, the ongoing case of backdated underpayment of council workers in a local authority in the Midlands (case ongoing).

    I think the main issue has to be misuse of council powers - full stop?

  • Comment number 90.

    Years ago I worked in a two person occasional bank with no screens, no sophisticated alarms and in a quiet residential suburb. In six months I experienced no incidents.

    These days that would not happen. Firstly, there would be protection within the bank structure; secondly, there would be a "business model" that would preclude this kind of "luxury"; thirdly, it would not be safe from attack.

    Health and safety are there for our protection, the protection of those who work with us, and for members of the public who may use our facilities in whatever way they choose. Websites, such as this for example, may have disability access facilities. These things would not have happened but for the inconvenience of their absence and the determined efforts of concerned parties to obtain change.

    That there are many who abuse the law is not new, but it is not a reason to change something that isn't broken. Stop greedy lawyers and greedy punters.

  • Comment number 91.

    In my country (Republic of Ireland) any person who makes a false or exaggerated claim faces a charge of fraud.

    This includes the solicitor presenting the claim.

    I suggest that it would benefit us all if the courts were much more cynical regarding all allegations (criminal and civil).

    Since governments have become obsessed with OFFENDERS registers, how about a FALSE ACCUSERS register.

  • Comment number 92.

    Health & Safety is a mess. It definately wants sorting. For a start, how about personal responsibility, sign a form saying "I have been explaned the risks and take responsibility" for minor common sense evaluations?
    I used to work as a tradesman on a maintenence site (Oil refinery) and to access my job I had to walk across a loose pebbled area to get there. A Health & Safety man was watching me, he said "You cannot walk on the pebbled area" I said how am I supposed to access my job then?
    He told me to wait, after half an hour, scaffolders started to build a bridge to my area! I said you are having a laugh aren`t you? They said "we have been told by H&S to do this, but we think it`s stupid" there is no common sense anymore! I regularly walk on a pebble beach anyway, we take small risks every day in life, life is now getting impossible!

  • Comment number 93.

    No one in this newsgroup seems to have grasped what H&S is for yet. It has nothing to do with "Health and Safety" in the sense of ensuring we the public are protected from unnecessary risks.
    It is just bureaucratic 'bum' covering. It is to ensure that should something happen it is not their fault. As someone else pointed out most claims fail. Those that succeed have to find an unforseen loophole to show negligence because there is now no such thing as an "accident". (Note how the emergency services no longer refer to car crashes as "RTA's" but as "RTI's" [incidents not accidents]). And as the same person said, when a loophole is uncovered by a laywer the easiest and cheapest option is to close down the possibility of it occuring again rather than doing something about it - so reducing their liability.
    You are not allowed to use your common sense because it cannot be quantified, and, as we have seen time after time in the press you can't assume that everyone has it. Our current crop of youngsters are a prime example of kids who have been so cossetted in their upbringing they have no ability to consider the causes and consequences of anything outside their own little world because they've always been protected from them.
    A beautiful example of this was in the press recently when a BEBO party was organised on Crammond island just off Edinburgh by a group of local DJ's. An island with a tidal causeway. The kids were warned about this and still a £10,000 rescue operation involving the RNLI was required to remove most of them as they got stuck that night in their daytime summer clothing risking hypothermia. But what was most striking is after the tide went back out some individuals still failed to make the connection and walk back to the mainland, and were stuck a second time when the tide came back in!
    This is what H&S and nanny-state does to people - removes their ability to think.

  • Comment number 94.

    Like many good intentions, Health and Safety has long since overshot being a boon to society and become a menace.
    Life in UK is really very safe but it is impossible to prevent every accident. Major hazards were tackled long ago and each new restriction brings a diminishing safety return. Common sense made most people avoid major risks voluntarily so few objected to regulations against them. Regulations against minor risks, however, intrude further and further into every day life.
    The effects are insidious, widespread and hugely damaging. Not only are the prices of our goods and services forced up by unnecessary costs but the range of activities that we can enjoy shrinks by the day. DIY is all but dead. Voluntary service is shrinking rapidly. Children's sports are restricted by comical precautions. Hours are wasted every day complying with patronising safety rules. It is no wonder that the population turns to drink, drugs and vandalism to escape its frustration.
    However, there is a whole industry of lawyers, H & S 'experts' and others with selfish interests pushing for more. It will take a very determined government to reverse this disease.

  • Comment number 95.

    What started off as a well meaning and positive step forward in workplace safety has mutated into a virulent cancer that is destroying our competitiveness and quality of life.

    We have to grow back up and accept that life brings with it risks and that entering any occupations brings with it the acceptance of specific dangers inherent with that job. If you dig coal you may die from lung diseases, if you work in the building industry there is always the chance a moments forgetfulness at height could prove fatal.

    Expecting the fire-fighter trying to save lives or the soldier in battle to be kept as safe as an office worker facing only paper cuts is delusional absurdity.

    The first thing that needs doing is to restrict the regulations to where they belong, the workplace. Children shoppers people driving along roads were never intended to come under this legislation and should be excluded. (As was the case until manipulative lawyers and civil servants colluded to move the goalposts parliament erected.) If specific laws are required for this area they can be created carefully with proper consultation, though I cannot see this as needed.

    The second is to remove the debilitating overburden of endless 'gold plating' carried out by the HSE. By that I mean all the 'advice' that in practice has become 'law' as only the bravest person with the deepest pockets could dare risk challenging it. Example? Risk assessments. There is no law requiring them, or at least none requiring copious form filling on everything it seems, from the sharpness of the office pencils to the safety of a police officer before he gives chase to some felon.

    There is no reason for the HSE to provide this either. Organisations such as trade bodies can provide such advice if needed at no cost to the public and geared to their own industry.

    Finally the sureal Alice in wonderland interpretations of words like 'reasonably foreseeable' that have been created by judges and lawyers who have at best a tenuous grip on the real world should be overruled.

    Currently it seems that if a Judge and cosy of highly paid lawyers could foresee the possibility of someone tripping over a discarded paper clip and impaling themselves on a sharp pencil they happened to be carrying at the time, then the company, run by an overworked manager should also have considered it!




  • Comment number 96.

    Yes of course it does.

    We don't want to be nannied - a simple warning sign should suffice that removes the possibility of litigation. It gets tiresome when everyone has their hand out for money every time an accident happens.

    However, some things need to be implemented properly such as the Working Time Directive, which says that a worker is entitled to a break of at least 20 minutes for each work period of 6 hours or more.

    Most companies have decided to dock people half an hour if they don't take a lunch break, which is not what the WTD says at all. Note: 20 mins not 30 mins AND, critically, the WORKER is ENTITLED to the break, it's not at the company discretion at all.

    This is part of the rise of corporatism - companies controlling the lives of people and exerting ever more influence on how they live their lives and their personal freedom. Anyone remember the day when a US company made the news for breathalysing their employees in the morning and if any alcohol trace was found, they were sacked?

    When did getting the job done stop being good enough? We don't live to work for someone else. And we don't need to live by someone else's rules controlling our every action and H&S seems to be constantly nitpicking away like a fussy headmaster.

  • Comment number 97.

    I agree with the people who said that the problem is with the litigation itself, not the past Labour government (who get blamed for far too much)

    But let's remember, lawyers do not arrive at an injured person's house with thei hefty payout. People approach lawyers and ask for their help. So it's not the lawyers' fault: it's people's fault.

    That is, of course, if you see this as a problem in the first place

  • Comment number 98.

    All that is needed in H & S is common sense, the problem was that the last government did not have any at all.
    It seems that everything that they did needs to be unpicked stitch by stitch.
    What fools they were and what fools we were to tolerate them.

    They did not deserve a single vote.

  • Comment number 99.

    Review H&S, cut the budget of the Food safety agency. All to allow industry to make savings by taking short cuts.

    Under Mrs Thatcher BSE was caused by lowering the cooking temperature of fell meat, so that it was not properly cleared of prions.

    What will this 'back to Maggie' government's new disease be?

    http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/index.htm On this site the HSE try to debubnk some of the myths attributed to them by rumour mongers.

  • Comment number 100.

    Can I please sign a form to say that I promise not to sue anyone, ever? Anyone that signs this form gets cheaper car insurance and is allowed to use a ladder at work.

 

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