The REAL Health and Safety continues its fight back against Jobsworths and Lickspittles
Those of us who have been involved in what I refer to as ‘Real Health and Safety’ are embarrassed by the various Jobsworths and Lickspittles that like to force others to bend to their will by using the term “For health and safety reasons” when they feel the need to show how powerful they are, or perhaps impress their boss.
It’s often for something trivial, or for something they’re afraid of being held responsible for – whether or not that may be the case.
It will also generally be something that the real HSE: Health and Safety Executive will have no knowledge of, and will probably not have been involved or even consulted about.
This has become so bad in recent years that the real HSE has taken to documenting and debunking many of these matters, and now reports them on its own web site:
There’s plenty of appalling stories reported there, which is why I’m not wasting time or space repeating any here.
However, I did notice that this issue had been picked up by the media:
A SCOTTISH council that banned dog training classes from community halls features in a list compiled by a government minister to highlight a spate of “ridiculous” health and safety cases.
Mike Penning, the UK’s health and safety minister, cited the example of North Lanarkshire council’s decision to ban dog shows and training classes in a letter to schools and councils, warning against the potential misuse of health and safety legislation.
And even the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) agrees.
“Health and safety has long been used as a smokescreen by Jobsworths who have little knowledge of the law and who want to fob people off with an easy excuse,” Mr Penning said.
Councillors in North Lanarkshire took the decision to stop local dog clubs using facilities that are also used by children after hearing that the animals had damaged gym halls and could spread allergies.
Other cases of overzealous officials cited by Mr Penning included a school in Hampshire not allowing a pupil to bring in a chick due to concerns about bird flu, a school in Gloucester stopping girls wearing frilly socks for fear of them tripping, and a council near Manchester preventing flowers and pots being placed on graves.
North Lanarkshire’s dog ban prompted complaints from local dog-owners. Margaret Wotherspoon, secretary of the Lanarkshire Road-Safety Dog Training Council, said it was “health and safety gone mad”.
Yesterday she said: “Now the Health and Safety Executive has said it is bonkers, that will give clubs ammunition when going into meetings about letting halls.”
Judith Hackitt, who chairs the Health and Safety Executive, said: “I would urge all decision-makers to take a step back and ask themselves whether a decision made in the name of health and safety is actually just an excuse for something else.
“Real health and safety is about protecting people in the workplace from life and health-threatening risks – it is not about stopping a child taking a baby chick into school, or banning indoor dog training.”
The council referred to above still doesn’t get it:
Last night, a spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council defended its stance: “There was never a blanket ban on dog shows in our facilities. However, we do not allow such activities to take place in our facilities where children might be using them afterwards.”
There would be no problem with the council refusing to allow certain activities to take place within facilities it controls, it’s responsible for what happens in them – but they have to give valid reasons, not make them up, or point at someone else and say “Nothing to do with us.”
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