Health & Safety mockery

In general terms, the UK’s Health & Safety Executive is responsible for ensuring that safety is maintained in the workplace. They do a good job, and this comment is in no way directed at then (after all, I’ve worked with them) but they’ve been hijacked as as result of frivolous claims raised in damage litigation – an unfortunate American import we used to be free of here. Now, if someone trips over their own big feet, their next move is to look for someone to sue for damages

Don’t laugh too hard (I don’t want sued for your resultant cracked ribs) but someone tried to sue a shopping mall for injuries to their feet, claiming that the floor surface was “too hard”. The judge threw the case out – at least someone has some sense.

I was reminded of this the other day when someone enquired about the possibility of a sightseeing visit to one of Scotland remaining steelworks. This was met with a negative response, and the standard phrase “for health and safety reasons” was trotted out in the form “Health & Safety regulations mean a lengthy indoctrination, and wearing helmet, boots, goggles, ear defenders and a reflective jacket.” The consequence being that there was simply not enough staff remaining in the plant to spare the time for this, combined with the visit duration.

It’s a shame that potential litigation has moved us to this stupid situation, where fear of litigation (regardless of its probability rather than possibility) means that phrase can be wheeled out as a basic default to end or deny access to a facility. And there’s little can be done to argue with it – you just get dismissed as “irresponsible” or “unaware of the full details” if you do.

Our air museums used to have “open cockpit” days. Someone noticed the WW2 aircraft dials were detailed with radioactive luminous paint, the standard phrase was rolled out, and the cockpits were closed to visitors.


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