Often, we will read or hear a story in the news where the phrase, or at least the theme, of ‘health and safety gone mad’ is used profusely. Whilst it’s obviously important that everything possible is done to avoid accidents at work, you could sometimes be forgiven for thinking that safety regulations have indeed ‘gone mad,’
However, it is far more likely that the story in question uses facts and evidence that is, at best, misunderstood and misrepresented. Often, it is the case of one person or company suggesting a change and that suggestion is taken as representative of the industry, or even country, as a whole.
Part of the role of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to bust some of these myths wide open. In early 2013, the HSE published a list of what it derided as ‘crackpot cases.’ Prominent on this list was the idea that children must remain silent in a dentist waiting room.
Silence in a dentist waiting room
At first glance, this seems like it could never amount to being anything other than a request for courtesy. After all, it’s hard to imagine of any workplace accidents or injuries that could occur as a result of noise in a dentist waiting room.
And this turns out to be the case. In its report, the HSE stated that, whilst there is complete justification for dental practices to ask parents to keep their children seated and quiet in the dentist waiting room, they do so out of consideration for other patients and staff, not because of any safety at work regulations.
It seems that, all too often, health and safety at work is simply used as a convenient fall-back, a catch-all umbrella term that can cover and provide justification for all manner of bizarre sounding rules.
The HSE, however, is adamant that this should not be the case and strongly suggests that companies and businesses ought to be responsible and transparent when it comes to explaining the reasoning behind their rulings.
Preventing injuries at work is an important priority for any employer but, as is overwhelmingly the case here, some rules are simply unnecessary or not true.
If you are injured in an accident at work, Accident Advice Helpline can offer the guidance you need to make a work accident claim.
Their freephone advice line is available on 0800 689 0500 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they usually conclude injury claims without court appearances.
Date Published: December 11, 2013
Author: David Brown