Busting the Health and Safety myths

Regularly there are media reports of officials spoiling events by imposing rules driven by health and safety concerns.

AegisBy Aegis.

A recent example of this was Newcastle Racecourse banning picnics on race days due to ‘safety reasons’. This reasoning was challenged by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) via social media which described attributing the ban to health and safety concerns as a ‘lame excuse’ that had gone on ‘furlong enough’.

The ban was later rescinded by the Racecourse following public pressure and adverse media attention.

This example illustrates a trend where companies and organisations are using health and safety as an excuse for questionable decision making.

Whether the real driving force behind the decision is fear of legal action, the costs involved, or a lack of staff training, often the answer is ‘no’ - with health and safety being blamed. This perpetuates the view held by some that health and safety regulations are overly-cautious and laden with unnecessary ‘red tape’.

|New research by Exeter University has looked at the perceptions of health and safety regulation in the UK by analysing nearly 300 cases scrutinised by the HSE Myth Buster Panel, which was set up specifically to challenge inaccurate guidance.

The research found three main reasons for the misuse of health and safety regulations: the avoidance of costs; fear of legal action; and a lack of staff training, with the latter being the most common reason.

Providing training for staff on health and safety, and risk assessment in particular, is a straightforward matter. Having staff who understand the regulations relevant to their work and who can undertake assessments that eliminate, reduce or control risks makes good business sense.

Trained staff will be more aware of what regulations apply and understand how to interpret them in a sensible manner. Here at Aegis we regularly design and provide training for businesses and organisations on a wide variety of topics. Often this training is provided in short, targeted sessions that fit in with the working day. Our expert health and safety advisers also undertake risk assessments where either the complexity of the issues or the lack of resources in-house leads to us being asked to step in.