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March 18, 2014

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Have your say: unnecessary safety measures

 

A recent survey of small businesses by the HSE found that many were going to ridiculous lengths to comply with health and safety — one business had written guidelines for walking upstairs. Another had written out risk assessments for everything, including use with a tape measure.

One in five of those surveyed believed that they were not capable of managing health and safety themselves and needed to hire a specialist consultant. 11 per cent believed that a qualified electrician needed to test appliances such as kettles and toasters every year, which according to the HSE, is a persistent myth.

What ridiculous health and safety measures have you come across?

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Alex
Alex
6 years ago

We can write many rules, procedures and guidelines; and provide a lot of training. However, we must also focus on their development and implementatioin; and the workplace cliamate that encourages learners to apply the knowledge (presuming that they are relevant and practicable) they acquired. Without the latter we are just creating an archive.

Barbara Evans
Barbara Evans
6 years ago

I once visited a showhome on a site still under construction where the sales advisor had had to contract someone to come in and change a light bulb as the construction site manager had banned all ladders from site for health and safety reasons.

David
David
6 years ago

In this day of litigation for all, it is no wonder some small businesses feel the need to protect everything in cotton wool for fear of being sued due to a cut from a tape measure. However and this is what galls me, I have an employer who stated ” if health and safety is a full time job we are spending too much time on it”. Well I am sorry but the old saying of familiarity breeds contempt springs to mind and too many times we see someone cutting corners that could lead to injury or damage. I do… Read more »

Hilda Palmer
Hilda Palmer
6 years ago

I think THIS initiative qualifies as unnecessary! There will be always be some silliness, though much that is reported is untrue, excuses and apocryphal. Many authorities, including Professor Paul Almond have criticised the HSE for going down the route of challenging these stories as ‘myths’ as counter productive and undermining of H&S. The truth is that work causes far more harm than is publicised and we should be focusing on good H&S regulation and enforcement as civilised response to stop people being hurt, made ill or killed and stop this utter nonsense. Sad to see SHP involved in this tabloidification… Read more »

Hilda Palmer
Hilda Palmer
6 years ago

Hi shponline, Thanks for this but I really feel you have naively contributed to bolstering the ‘elf and safety’s gorn mad’ lobby which has become accepted fact without a shred of evidence and despite a massive weight of research findings to the contrary. When Cameron Minshull, 16 was killed in an engineering firm in Jan 2013, by unguarded lathe while on government approved apprenticeship, was that due to too much regulation and enforcement, or petty rules, silly signs, stupid excessive advice? No,it was due to far too little regulation and enforcement and this initiative of yours bolsters employers to think… Read more »

Jack Shepherd
Jack Shepherd
6 years ago

Paul, we had a worker stopped from using a tape measure WITHOUT gloves by our client on a walkabout.

I can see how a damaged tape may present a very slight risk of causing a cut but, I am certainly not rushing to create our first risk assessment for using a tape measure, my manager would have a fit…..!

Malcolm Griffiths
Malcolm Griffiths
6 years ago

I understand exactly why small businesses have difficulties understanding how to deal with health and safety legislation. They do not necessarily have the spare capacity to employ an in-house specialist and to still stay competitive. (Yes, sorry to enlighten you but it’s true: despite all the bull, safety has a cost). Yet companies are continually bombarded with warnings of potential dangers and threats of dire consequences so, often they hire someone. The latest edition of SHP carried an article on the risk of musculoskeletal damage to laboratory workers; another set of researchers creating another possibility for a “specialist in the… Read more »

Mark Forbes
Mark Forbes
6 years ago

I used to regularly take down the posters on the stairs instructing people to hold the handrail in the interests of health safety. They were put up by the “Facilities department” in the same organisation that I was the Health and Safety manager. It was like a battle of attrition.

Nick
Nick
6 years ago

After 17 years as a safety professional I am at the end of my tether with people that believe safety is all about petty rules. The old adage of ‘a little knowledge is dangerous’ is so true, When someone goes on a NEBOSH certificate or IOSH managing safety and then think that is it and they know it all regarding implementing safety regulations, sorry but you have only scratched the surface. Worse still is the lawyers that insist companies put stupid rules in place to avoid litigation. Mind you I have had a good career and made quite a bit… Read more »

Nick
Nick
6 years ago

To clarify my views, legislation, rules and standards are very important but it is the petty, nonsensical and in some cases stupid safety nanny rules that are implemented by people misunderstanding and having misguided (but good of course) intentions. Re. Marks comment about posters on stairs (I have even seen a stair monitor who was counting how many did or did not hold the handrail). It is these issues that make a mockery of H&S efforts and detract from the real issues as mentioned by others in this forum. This forum was originally about small businesses going to ridicules and… Read more »

Paul
Paul
6 years ago

What hazards can possibly be faced when using a tape measure! Bizzare! Talk about trivial risk or what

Pete Farrell
Pete Farrell
6 years ago

Tell the families of the 2 building workers killed and the 1 seriously injured in 1 week in London. That Health and Safety isn’t neccessary or the 3500 Building workers sacked and Blacklisted for raising questions of Safety on sites. From Asbestos which kills over 2000

Workers a year mainly in Construction every year in this country alone, tell their families that it’s over the top! If people believe Sun like articles ask yourself why employers make up this crap to belittle safety!

shponline
shponline
6 years ago

Hi Hilda, we felt that the research did a fairly good job of highlighting the fact that many small businesses do not have the resources for health and safety, and misinformation has been spread around as a result. Surely highlighting it is better than nothing? We’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

shponline
shponline
6 years ago

Hi Hilda, thanks again for your thoughts. Just to clarify, this is HSE research. Broadly, we agree with your points – health and safety is a crucial part of our working lives, and is given a bad rap by both government and the mainstream media. But we do feel that misinformation spread by well-meaning employers can also contribute to that bad rap, which is why we published this. Sorry that this message has not been clear. If there’s anything that you think we should do to further support the sector, please do let us know.

 

 

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