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April 16, 2012

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Health and safety challenge panel wades into seagull saga

The HSE’s new Mythbuster Challenge Panel has handed down its first decision – in response to a complaint by the Daily Mail.

The notoriously anti-health and safety newspaper contacted the HSE last week, following the widely reported story of the London Fire Brigade’s refusal to allow its fire-fighters to wade into a pond in south London to rescue a trapped seagull.

The Brigade had been called to the scene in Carshalton on 8 April by the RSPCA, which had been contacted by a member of public who noted the bird was caught in a plastic bag and struggling to free itself. In all, five appliances and crews were dispatched to the reportedly three-feet-deep pond but, on arrival, they assessed that it was not an emergency and left the scene.

The bird was eventually rescued by a volunteer from a nearby animal centre, wearing a pair of waist-high waders and armed with a net.

The story quickly hit the headlines as another example of ‘elf and safety gone mad, after the LFB was quoted as saying “protocols” prevented its fire-fighters from entering the pond and that it was not willing to put their lives at risk for the sake of a seagull.

The Daily Mail contacted the Mythbuster Challenge Panel on the day of its launch – 11 April – but complained the following day that it had not received an answer. On 13 April, HSE chair Judith Hackitt released the following statement on behalf of the panel: “We have now had chance to examine the facts in this case and it is clear that it was not about health and safety at all. The fire service itself has made clear that their decisions at Carshalton were not based on health and safety factors. We endorse this view.”

She went on to explain that, to do its job properly, the Panel needs time to establish and examine the facts. Said Ms Hackitt: “We will try our best to meet deadlines when we can but not at the expense of working on hearsay rather than facts. We said that we aim to make a response within 48 hours and it has taken us less than 24 hours to respond to this case.”

The LFB also released a statement, emphasising that it was not health and safety protocols that stopped fire-fighters from entering the water, and explaining why so many appliances were sent to the scene. It said: “Often, by the time our fire-fighters arrive at an incident, someone has waded in to try and rescue an animal only to get into danger themselves, so we send enough crews to deal with whatever we may find. The safety of the public and our fire-fighters is always our priority.”

The statement concluded: “London Fire Brigade’s fire-fighters are trained to make difficult judgement calls about when it is right to risk their lives in order to save another.”
 

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Alan
Alan
10 years ago

There should be no need for the panel. It is up those responsible for advising and drafting policy etc. and who call themselves Health and Safety professionals to stop the daft safety procedures and decision making processes they come up with that inhibit the emergency services on the ground doing their job. They are the problem and I think it is about time that they are exposed for what they are – the idiots who are causing all the bad headlines.

Bill
Bill
10 years ago

I dont suppose the Daily Mail would offer to repay the costs incurred by the HSE. If not money, they could pay in kind by printing a story about reasons for not wasting the emergency services time, or just point out that animal welfare charities raise donations to do this kind of work.
No, probably not.

Dribkram
Dribkram
10 years ago

I hope the Daily Mail put the response from the HSE/Mythbusters on the FRONT PAGE like this story was originally!

The HSE needs to be more vocal in shooting these stories down. The public remember the headline, dont read the article and wont read the follow up. Sadly its a PR game that the HSE is not winning, or even really playing!!

Eai
Eai
10 years ago

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Allow me to send this message … I am an HSE Advisor in Omani

I would like to say: Thank you Soo much for this web service, Which I really find it SOO USEFUL …

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Hamoud Ali

Gianni
Gianni
10 years ago

How typical of The Daily Mail. Going off at the mouth without establishing the facts. Then demanding immeadiate action. They will be asking for a public inquirery into the matter next !!!

Ianmiles2000
Ianmiles2000
10 years ago

Ahh the Daily Mail. Someone send them some camomile tea.

Jonesd
Jonesd
10 years ago

I would have thought that the Daily Mail would have spend better time asking why such an expensive and valuable resource was sent in the first place to such frivalous incident.

Liam
Liam
10 years ago

Rightly so? How would the editor of the Daily Mail feel if he needed the emergency services to attend a personal disaster to find they were saving a seagull? Too easy these days to hide behind the “Elf and Safety” badge when in fact statistics prove that 99% of the professionals involved actually do save lives?

Get a life Daily mail….

Malcolm
Malcolm
10 years ago

I’m pleased that this panel has been set up to respond to some of the idiotic decisions that undermine health & safety. In this case, I think the Daily Mail was trying to create an issue when there was none. One BBC Radio 4 show made a personal attack on Judith Hackett for comments she has made about over overzealous, risk averse interpretations of safety issues. Hopefully the panel will also be strong enough to publicly correct those who exaggerate risk.

Paul
Paul
10 years ago

Why did the LFB send fire engines in the first place? Having done so, it does appear from their statement that it was a H&S issue that prevented them from acting. What a waste of resources. The LFB do not look particularly good in this tale. We all know what the alarmist Mail is like – but if it makes the LFB review their performance, it is no bad thing!

Rennatgk
Rennatgk
10 years ago

Given the end of the statement from LFB it is clear that the trainers need re-training.
Personally I believe that they are inacapable of understanding the legislation.
So often bodies/individuals interpret legislation when they have neither the authority nor the ability to do so.
Only the Courts or, in some instances, a Secretary of State has the authority to interpret legislation.

Whitesmar
Whitesmar
10 years ago

Strangely, I feel this will not be the last time we see the words “Daily” and “Mail” put together on this site. 🙁

This so-called newspaper appears to believe that no one should be both healthy and safe.

However, some people must buy it.