First aid blog

Monday 2 July 2018

It’s Health and Safety gone mad!

When Health and Safety “goes mad” it is almost always down to the person implementing it

blog-post-20180702-1A popular consensus is that Health and Safety law, rules and regulations end up getting in the way of common sense and essentially just add more work, time, effort and money into things that really don’t need it.

The vast majority of H&S regulations are there for one of three reasons: maybe the situation is complicated enough that you need specific instructions in order to understand how to safely perform your task; perhaps the task has such a high hazard rating that, as low as the risk may be, a failure scenario must be averted at all costs. The last possibility is the simplest and applies to every single health and safety regulation out there: Common sense is not common.
The primary argument against the admittedly substantial level of Health and Safety law that we all have to deal with in our professional lives simply doesn’t make sense when you look at it in a broad context. Essentially, it comes down to paraphrasing part of a line from ‘Men in Black’. A person is smart, but people are stupid.

Health and safety law applies to organisations and businesses with often hundreds or thousands of workers, clients, visitors etc. If you don’t have rules and regs for pretty much everything, someone will find a way to do the incredibly dangerous thing that everyone else knows you just shouldn’t do. The concept of common sense en masse just doesn’t stack up.

The title of this blog post is a phrase that I get to hear on a fairly regular basis, whether it’s via tabloid headlines, social media rants or frustrated learners on a First Aid course.

There’s one final element to add to this and that is that when Health and Safety does “go mad” it is almost always down to the person in charge of implementing it. Good Health and Safety is simple and straightforward to follow. If it’s too confusing, too detailed or too changeable then that is (in my experience) down to poor management rather than excessive rules and regs. If you ever feel like you’ve come up with a safe but quicker or more efficient work process, talk to your management about it. Your experience of working within the rules is paramount to improving them. But also understand that sometimes things do have to be done their way for reasons that you might not have direct experience or knowledge of.

Take care and check for danger,