The Health and Safety Executive Chair Linda Hackitt has been moved to publicly denounce many of the myths surrounding the omnipresent “Heath and Safety” laws that apparently affect every single action that any of us are involved or may consider becoming involved in. This seems to be a very timely, if not overdue, public intervention to clear up a good deal of nonsense that surrounds health and safety legislation in the United Kingdom that not only interferes with people’s daily lives but perhaps more importantly detracts from the very important work that the Health and Safety Executive are actually engaged in.
Linda Hackitt said to the BBC “Why on earth do people think that they can get away with banning pint glasses with handles, bubbles at a birthday party, or burgers served anything other than well done, claiming they are a health and safety hazard?” “The reality is that people hide behind health and safety when there are other reasons for what they’re doing – fear of being sued perhaps, or bad customer service. It’s time for them to own up to their real motives.”
She went on to say : “The sad fact is that while all this nonsense is being spouted, it overshadows what health and safety is really about – ensuring people return home without injury from their day’s work, every day.”
This sort of thing is not new, as this writer knows from long experience, owners of bars and night clubs have been for many years using insurance as an excuse for not allowing men into their establishments with the old lie of “We are not insured for it” This happens in many other businesses as well, I have had delivery men say to me that ” We are not insured to carry stuff upstairs” totally untrue. In my long experience of dealing with liability insurance policies I have never seen a policy that restricts the proportion of men to women in an establishment, that stops people climbing step ladders or delivery men carrying things upstairs. Linda Hackitt is correct, these are excuses being used to disguise the real motives of people, which in truth are usually manifestly clear.
Yes insurance policies do have exclusions on them, but not ordinarily exclusions that prevent people from undertaking their business in an ordinary way. When a business takes out a liability insurance policy they inform the insurance company of what they do and the insurance company accepts that risk and those associated with that business that would occur in the normal consideration of those activities. A builder for instance may have a restriction on the height at which they can work, but this is because they have chosen to take that exclusion on their policy as they are presenting themselves as a lower risk to an insurer.
The HSE have exposed an extensive list of some of the nonsense claims that have ben made in their name and have been urging people for a year now to report “suspect” legislation to them – this is good stuff in my opinion and we should all act to try and finally mute these people and their faux excuses for either idleness or just plain poor customer service.