"So many things get banned because of health and safety. It’s the nanny state gone mad!"
We’ve all seen the signs, we’ve all read the stories – everyday activities suddenly prohibited ‘for health and safety reasons’. It sometimes seems as though ‘health and safety’ is about preventing anyone being exposed to any kind of risk, and it’s no wonder people often think it’s all gone too far.
In truth, health and safety law has nothing to do with trying to remove every single possible risk from people’s lives. It was introduced in this country to help address the high number of accidents in the workplace which over the years have resulted in hundreds of deaths and many thousands of very serious injuries. It has absolutely nothing to do with wrapping everyone in cotton wool.
Unfortunately, health and safety is often used an excuse for all sorts of unpopular decisions. It can be very convenient to put a difficult decision down to some vague “health and safety” issue rather than outline the real motivation – for example commercial pressures or fear of legal action.
The position of the Health and Safety Authority is clear – health and safety is not a reason to not do something. If there are valid risks associated with a workplace activity these risks should be assessed and managed so that the activity can be carried out in a safe way. Very rarely is the solution to simply not do it.