What Has Health and Safety Ever Done For Us?

Does anyone recall the hilarious debate that Monty Python did about the Romans? A room full of Zealots were being stirred into a frenzy against the empire. The speaker was in the end defeated because instead of the Romans being seen as a negative, the room kept listing the benefits they had brought. That is how I feel sometimes. What has Health and Safety ever done for us?

It HAS given us three words most likely to have people dozing off, I will concede that. It has also provided a host of people who take the goals of health and safety and make bizarre and extreme demands in the work place.

In one instance a health and safety inspector was at a training business and was shown into the training room. It was not large, about five metres by five. It had a single double pair of doors and two ground floor windows. The woman looked around and was overall satisfied then she asked the trainer if he thought there was one improvement that could be made.

He couldn’t think of any. She smiled in a friendly way but with an air of tut tut.

‘ A fire exit sign over the doors would be a good idea.’

In order to walk in to see the sign they had to go through those doors. That is what gives us a bad name in this business.

On the plus side, and I would argue there is an overwhelming plus side,  I’ll simply address THE reason that my job exists at all and I will do it not with words but pictures. Take a look at the below.

The vast majority of people will apply common sense to all manner of work place tasks. It is the minority that cost them and others their lives, it is the few that make your business a headache and can catapult a reputation into tabloid heaven. In the above I can only identify a couple of the examples as being from the UK and the reason for that is health and safety law. We can laugh at other countries featured here but we used to do the same things and given the chance would do them again.

What Could Go Wrong?

It isn’t that anyone does things like the above thinking it will go wrong. That has to be the one issue I deal with most onsite. It is usually a case of the goal and time pressure becoming the priority. The problem is that when a hasty solution fails it normally costs  more time than it was meant to save.

No-one wants to stand in the way of progress out of sheer obstinacy, okay maybe some do,  in my case I want to get the tasks done, I need that success as much as anyone. However, I can’t allow unreasonable working practise because I know that bad things can happen. It is all part of understanding how industry works, wanting it to work while at the same time applying practical, justifiable safety codes.

Those dull old health and safety standards that summon the Sandman for some people have given countless others their lives and business the opportunity to achieve goals while staying out of court.

Take care

Chris Hodge

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