To say health and safety’s reputation has suffered in recent years would be something of an understatement. If the media’s anything to go on, businesses are constantly being bombarded with new regulations they must incorporate into their daily work practices.
What are some ‘mad’ health and safety laws?
Nurses have to write down every single movement of their patients, when they could be actually helping them; pub workers aren’t allowed to give out a solitary, inoffensive plaster to a member of the public, for fear of sparking an allergic reaction; and kids and grow-ups alike are no longer permitted to bump into each other on the Dodgems, to which we say, ‘Dodgems, why do you still exist?’
These are just a few of the tales we’ve heard. Other include:
• Monkey bars and other ‘dangerous’ toys being removed from playgrounds.
• Sports Day sack races being banned.
• Pins on commemorative poppies being removed and replaced with a safer, impossible-to-work alternatives.
• Schoolyard football games being restricted to those involving foam balls only.
Who’s fault is it, anyway?
When it comes down to it, it’s individual councils who decide how a lot of health and safety regulations should be implemented. Councils with poor knowledge of regulations and how they’re supposed to be implemented can become overzealous and protective, for fear of being slapped with a lawsuit.
This is what leads to kite-flying being banned on beaches, and employers refusing to clear snow in a car park (because if they touch it, they could be liable for any injuries, even though they’ve actually reduced the risk).
But is it really all that bad?
Some of these are extreme examples, to be certain. There are plenty of other regulations that you may be quite glad to see in place:
Using safety harnesses and helmets, and setting up scaffolding are all common practice in construction and other trades that involve working at tall heights. Adequate ventilation and masks are required in areas that may expose people to toxic fumes, mould or other hazardous substances. Heavy machinery is kept safely behind guard rails, and workers are given proper equipment such as goggles, gloves and ear defenders to protect themselves.
If it’s all or nothing, we’d rather have it all, personally. When health and safety laws were first conceived, it was with a definite slant towards protecting workers in unsafe environments. And that’s what it still is, in theory.
Sure, it can be a drag. But, ultimately, if you’re a business owner with employees, you don’t have a choice in the matter. Not if you want to avoid the risk of being sued or subjected to an enquiry, anyway.
If you’re worried that your business isn’t as in-the-know about health and safety regulations as it should be, get in touch today to find out about our training courses – they could be just what you need.