H&S Myths Challenged

In April 2012 the HSE announced the setting up of a new independent panel to challenge health and safety myths.

The safety watchdog said that “health and safety” is often incorrectly used as a “convenient excuse” to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead and that the new Myth Busters Challenge Panel has been formed to scrutinise such decisions.

The panel will be chaired by Judith Hackitt, the HSE Chair, with HSE Board member Robin Dahlberg as the Vice-Chair, supported by a pool of independent members who represent a wide range of interests. This is said to include small businesses, public safety representatives, trade unions, the insurance industry and many other outside interests.

The HSE says the panel will look into complaints regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers, and quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made.

With immediate effect, people can complain to the panel if they think a decision or piece of advice given in the name of health and safety is wrong or disproportionate. The panel will then investigate and publish its findings on the HSE website.

The Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling, said, “All too often jobsworths are the real reason for daft health and safety decisions. We want people who are told they cannot put up bunting or they cannot play conkers to know that there is no basis in law for such rulings.”

More common sense was injected into the H&S myth debate in July when HSE criticised event promoter Live Nation for hiding behind elf n’ safety excuses when Bruce Springsteen’s performance with Sir Paul McCartney at a Hyde Park gig was cut short in July.

Initially Live Nation blamed the 10.30pm curfew as being “laid down by the authorities in the interest of the public’s health and safety”. In his own inimitable style, Boris Johnson described the decision to end the concert as “excessively efficacious” and stated that “if they’d have called me, my answer would have been for them to jam in the name of the Lord”.

As it happens, the Deputy Chief Executive of the HSE Kevin Myers was at the gig and he issued a strong rebuttal of Live Nation’s excuse, stating that “while public events may have licensing conditions dictating when they should end, this is not health and safety and it is disingenuous of Live Nation to say so”.

So in reality Live Nation pulled the plug on The Boss and Sir Paul in order to avoid being fined by the local council for overrunning their performing licence. A poor way to end a reportedly great gig but definitely not elf n’ safety gone mad!



Other news : H&S exemption proposed for the self-employed

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