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August 14, 2011

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Health and safety partly to blame for the riots, says Cameron

The riots across England last week have prompted the prime minister to put the ‘broken society’ back at the top of his agenda – with health and safety highlighted as one of the key reasons why rioters and looters felt able to act “without common sense”.

Speaking at a youth centre in his Oxfordshire constituency this morning (15 August) David Cameron set out the priority areas that he believes need to be tackled to restore responsibility “right across society”.

Referring to the “sickening acts”, “twisted moral code”, and  “irresponsibility and selfishness” displayed on the streets last week Mr Cameron announced that the Government is to review its work in root-cause areas such as schools, welfare, families – and health and safety.

He said: “[There is] an obsession with health and safety that has eroded people’s willingness to act according to common sense. As we urgently review the work we are doing on the broken society, judging whether it’s ambitious enough, I want to make it clear that there will be no holds barred – and that most definitely includes the health and safety culture.”

A spokesperson for the prime minister told SHP that Mr Cameron is not blaming health and safety for the riots “per se” but that it is one of a raft of issues emerging in society at the moment that are contributing to a lack of people taking responsibility for their actions.

He said: “One of those issues is the way in which the health and safety culture has developed into a catch-all excuse.”

Indeed, in a departure from previous orations on the subject – in which he lambasted “excessive” health and safety regulation and the “burden” it creates – Mr Cameron did acknowledge that it is misinterpretation and misuse of the rules that are the real problem.

He said: “Regulations have often been twisted out of all recognition into a culture where the words ‘health and safety’ are lazily trotted out to justify all sorts of actions and regulations that damage our social fabric.”

Asked how all of this might affect the current review of health and safety being carried out by Prof Ragnar Löfstedt – and whether his findings may be rejected if they are not, as the prime minster said today, “big enough and bold enough to deliver the change that I feel this country now wants to see” – the Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Löfstedt review is an incredibly important part of the health and safety element of all this.

“The message to him [Prof Löfstedt] is: don’t be shy – come away with strong, positive ideas to fundamentally move on from the point of the events last week. Don’t be afraid to come back with radical suggestions and solutions.”

Commenting on the speech, the head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, Richard Jones, said: “We are pleased that the prime minister recognises that health and safety matters, and that it is often misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the law, rather than the law itself, that causes the problems.€

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Richard
Richard

Good job Mr. Cameron, we all know that safety is the route of all problems and evils in this world!
Regret that in this instance you have shown an enormous misunderstanding about the subject. Safety is about making business more profitable about finding the safety, most cost efficient means of doing the job.
The real problem with this misunderstanding is missing the point that we are trying to prevent litigation and prosecutions.

Lionel
Lionel

I suspect we are missing the point of Cameron’s eloquent pronouncements, I suspect this is a coded sideswipe at the police and their allegedly timid reaction to the riots. This point has been emphasised by Cameron’s darling sidekick, Teresa May and his communities minister Billy Bunter. These factors and others have given momentum to Camerons’ personal hate campaign of removing health and safety controls and enforcement rather than tackling fraudulent claims companies where the real issues lie.

Kris
Kris

Sadly, IOSH has totally lost sight of reality in this article. Cameron’s perceived change of tone is nothing more than words chosen to appear reasonable in his argument using the riots as an excuse to reinforce his attack on health & safety.

There are none so blind as those who wish not to see!

Kirkmcarter
Kirkmcarter

This is hilarious! I can just see the interview with the thug: “I did a dynamic risk assessment, and decided the fire extinguisher would be safer to use than my foot. The half a paving slab I threw at the Policeman was loose anyway, so I’m suing the Council for that.”
Where’s the connection between Health & Safety culture and greedy thugs bent on theft & violence? Wait til one of the thugs sues for injuries sustained whilst looting, or whilst being arrested. That’s a sick society!!!

Kev
Kev

Don’t blame H&S as the reason for the riots
Mr Cameron should take a closer look at the changes in society over recent decades been more cocerned with the ‘rights of the perpetraters’ of crime rather that the victims!

Innefective policing, when arrestsare made CPS fail to act (poor evidence?) Many case never get to court, those that do, some sentences are appaling (due to poor guidlines or bad judgement?)

Thugs walk free NO deterrents, any wonder they are repared to ‘take the chance”

Kev
Kev

Mr Cameron would be well served if he came to realise thast “Health & Safety” is certaily NOoPT the cause of todays problems with society. Many of the things blamed on H&S are in fact due to a reluctance of people to take time & effort in establishing ‘safe ways of achieving asks’ and being so scared of prosecutin if anyone were to have a accident – much easier to BAN it on H&S grounds.

John
John

PeterK I couldn’t agree more with your statement. Well said.

Jgamble83
Jgamble83

You forgot the global recession…Im sure that we H&S professionals…were the root cause of the collapse of all the major global banks….maybe removal of H&S legislation will be the fiscal stimulus that is required…I THINK NOT…

Jgamble83
Jgamble83

Furthermore…does he want all persons within society who have trained, become competent and experts in their own field to do work 5 days a week for nothing. The big society as he puts it is not about this…I do not see Politicians doing voluntary work? Erm a few years ago they were voluntarily helping themselves to expenses from the taxpayer. Change the record Mr Cameron, stop blaming and start governing because that is what YOU get paid to do involuntarily???

Jgamble83
Jgamble83

I found the article about the link between rioting and H&S twisted, to say the very least. H&S is not someones parents that allow their children to be out committing crimes. I also feel that MR CAMERON has double standards. He has said that the perpetrators of this violence will feel the full force of the law? There have even been 3 law changes to ensure that governing such acts of violence can be more robust and flexible… So MR C…what is the difference between this and H&S common sense?

Jason
Jason

Health and safety have legal requirements to follow, forgive me if im being a numpty but aren,t all laws passed by government
Perhaps, Mr Cameron the root cause is with politicians being detached from reality.

Meden
Meden

Mr Cameron you are surely advised by incompetent people Are any of your advisors listed on a so called voluntry register to prove them competent? I doubt it.
You and your predesessors are the ones to blame for the riots starting with the Iron Lady – look at how she crushed the miners and devistated our once proud mining industry. look at the culture that developed at the time- “I’m all right Jack stuff you”
Looking at the banking industry Private Proffit – Public Loss thats what upsets people.

Michael
Michael

Shocking…cheap headlines for the gutter media to jump onto. When is thes relic from the Victorian times going to give up and concentrate and the real issues

Michael
Michael

It looks like Cameron is the major one here not taking responsibility for his actions. He’s the one saying “It’s not me guvnor; It’s them”. Cameron, your in charge of GB Limited, take responsibility, get it fixed properly, instead of generating soundbites. Or get out and leave it to someone who can do the job.

Richard
Richard

Mr Cameron – Riots & H&S – You have lost the plot! Legislation and regulation – I hope you will (genuinely) live up to your new & enlightened understanding of the previous mis-interpretation of H&S and will shout it even louder – H&S professionals are not the enemy!
IOSH – please don’t lose it – be strong, be stronger.
Common sense – we all know it often isn’t common (some more needed in government!). Good law, good guidance and good enforcement required – you can’t do away with the last

Ray
Ray

Well said Peter.

So our PM is trying restore responsibility “right across society”. He might consider tackling the civil service gravy train, MPs fiddling expenses, bankers paying themselves extortionate bonuses, corrpuption in the police force and the illegal phone hacking in the media. Yes, there is plenty wrong with our scociety. However, tackling health and safety is like asking for more deck chairs on the Titanic!

Prpr
Prpr

The Prime Minister has two motives: he dislikes regulation, which he sees as strangling economic recovery, and he believes that regulations prevent emergency services from taking effective action.
In 2003, a High Court judge criticised HSE “for wasting public time and money in prosecuting the Met Police Commissioner and his predecessor… about the danger of climbing on roofs”. Scotland Yard believed that the costs of the legal action would pay for 70 officers for a year.
That’s his gripe!

Phil
Phil

he didn’t associate blame from the riots to H&S, but the complete attitude socity has that purveys the situations we all see dailiy in the media.

I think reading between the lines, he really wants to end this daytime telly “Have you ever been in an accident” crassness and cheapness.

I am a graduate H&S professional H&S adviser, and am astounded at how often the phone goes, the person says “I’ve had an accident, how do I claim?”

All for it DC. Sort this country out before all’s lost

Peterreynolds48
Peterreynolds48

how can health and safety be to blame Mr Cameron take your blinkers off

Peter
Peter

It’s not the Health and Safety Culture that’s to blame, it’s the compensation culture and the expectaion of ‘reward’ for no effort that pervades society. If the PM can work out the difference what hope is there for fixing ‘broken Britain’. Fix the root causes not the symptoms…………………………

Paul
Paul

I would suggest to colleagues that they watch the 1980’s series Yes Minister which is a true reflection of the fact that Ministers play to the press. The Daily Mail and other similar comics have found that it is popular to blame H&S and the public sector for all of the countries ills. Don’t be surprised if H&S gets the blame for unemployment, the economy and other problems that they have no other answers for. They haven’t a clue how to identify underlying causes.

Nigel
Nigel

North Yorkshire Police recently announced that extra officers brought in to deal with the possibility of riots last week appeared to have contributed to a reduction of crime by up to 40% over the same period last year. [There were no riots.] It appears that the public presence of the ‘enforcing authority’ prevented some crimes. The Government’s answer to health and safety crimes is to cut ‘visible’ proactive HSE Inspections by a third. Such is Mr Cameron’s commitment to enforcing H&S law.

Nic
Nic

The spokesperson for the prime minister is quoted as saying “One of those issues is the way in which the health and safety culture has developed into a catch-all excuse”. I agree – the prime minister’s spokesman has hypocritically used the same excuse – blaming health and safety for the riots!
I thought that it was his party’s creation of the “me, me” society in the 80’s and the lack of accountability of the fat-cat banks encouraged by the Thatcher government has manifested itself in the riots.

Michael
Michael

Please IOSH and HSE, can somone make a public formal complaint about this. I truley belive we were making progress on changing peoples attitudes towars H&S. Headlines like this have just destroyed all of that

Ianmiles2000
Ianmiles2000

A post script to my ealier comment.

Email the PM and/or Chris Grayling and ask him for specifics where H&S culture has twisted regulations beyond all recognition.

I emailed Mr Grayling, well he is my MP, and feel much better!

They won’t listen if we don’t shout the loudest…

Ianmiles2000
Ianmiles2000

Oh come on IOSH.

When are you going to stand up to the likes of Grayling and Cameron. Rather than wait for Prof Löfstedt to make his report and make rational decisions based on its findings, the government is already trying to influence the outcome and it is obvious to me that all calm and rational thinking has long gone out of the window.

The linking of H&S to the riots is crass opportunism pure and simple – why didn’t you say so?

Chadsmascout
Chadsmascout

Yes I agree with HDW, am I missing something? How the hell has H&S got anything to do with the riots – God I hope Cameron gets kicked out next time what a complete …….. The riots were all about kids getting freebies in the school holidays and following like sheep. That bloke really annoys me sometimes…well all the time

Cg
Cg

I have no issue with applying health and safety in a sensible and proportionate way but try as I might I can see no link with what happened in the riots and over-zealous applications of health and safety.
Poor social conditions and people seeing no worthwhile future are more likely to be factors (but not excuses).

Byron
Byron

Once again “elf” and Safety is being misrepresented. David Cameron seeking a soundbite and an ill considered excuse is jumping on the band wagon (this is someone that cannot move without suitable protection). Somebody should make it clear to him that safety measures should be in place for a reason not an excuse. The safety of the public and emergency services were at risk during the riots.

Bsteenkamp
Bsteenkamp

He is merely looking to dilute blame across a spread, thereby making it more difficult for anybody to lay the blame at the politicians. Through all these drastic cuts and shutting down front-line services, he is depriving teenagers of much needed distractions, sporting facilities, councilling etc. Then, when they have nowhere to go but the streets, he wants to cut police numbers. Genius David.

Bittern1
Bittern1

What planet is this Old Etonian “f*&*wit” of a Prime Minister on?

The causes of the riots are complex :

Consumerism v citizenship
Govt Cuts
No role models for young people
Failure of the education system by every govt since WW2
Disrespect of authority & from authority
They could get way with it
Breakdown of the family unit
Total breakdown of western faith culture
“Gangsta” culture/war games sold to young people etc etc

NOT H&S MR C & IOSH JUST MAKES AN ANODYNE STATEMENT!

Bill
Bill

Health & Safety seems to be the this Governments pet hate at the moment especially Mr Cameron. Whilst I have agreed with some of the issues raised in the Lord Young report to improve H&S the Government needs to get its act together and stop blaming the breakdown of society in the UK on Health & Safety.
Having worked in Health & Safety for some 25+ years I am aware of the faults in the system as are most of my professional colleagues, but to blame it for the riots “Please” that is a vast stretch

Beano
Beano

Umm how the hell can he blame H&S. If anything we would have advised looters not to enter without carrying out a risk assessment and wearing proper PPE.

Andy
Andy

The public will be more inclined to show personal responsibility when our devious and unreliable politicians take personal responsibility for their own decisions and actions.
There is no health and safety culture, there is a culture of laziness on the part of those who should be leading the country and our communities.
Get the lazy jobsworths out of positions of influence and promote people who will think rather than recite.
Honesty, Small Government, Simple Laws, Enforcement.

Andrewbirchall3
Andrewbirchall3

I am so angry at this man I don’t have the space here to express myself.

Alanh
Alanh

It’s clear to me that the Prime Minister is a politician first and trots out the headlines and has to use a Press Aid to explain that he didn’t really mean what he said. Why doesn’t he say what he means first time round, isn’t that common sense! I guess it isn’t common to everyone.
Personal responsibility should be at the top of the agenda and it should extend from the very top to the very bottom, until we get that right people will get killed and injured at work for all manner of reasons.

Clive
Clive

It’s obvious that health & safety is responsible for the riots, i mean it gets the blame for everything else! (for any of the mindless thugs reading this, that’s sarcasm) When are people going to take responsability for their own actions and stop blaming those people that are trying to help them stay safe. Give us a break!

Csandifo
Csandifo

With this level of thinking from the PM no wonder people were rioting. The fact that MP’s are able to cream off tousands of the tax-payers money without penalty and the way bankers are able to collect bonuses while working for banks bailed out by the tax payer may have influenced people. Perhaps the PM should go and speak to the relatives of those who will be killed and maimed at work this week before making cheap jibes about Health and Safety being partly to blame for the UK’s ills.

Davel
Davel

Its not H&S thats to blame it orgainsations or individuals within organisations quolting H&S as an excuse for their inaction or over reaction!

Iain_Letham
Iain_Letham

“HSE to blame for riots” oh please the reason the riots took place we will never know yobs with nothing better to do kids with nothing better to do illegal immigrants who knows the one thing i do know is if the bleeding heart liberal clowns that keep saying dont smack your child teachers dont discipline those children policeman dont you dare touch that person judges dont even think about handing out a severe penalty for the crime, lets use common sence and install discipline in our society.

Huwwilli
Huwwilli

“a complete…grade ‘A’ twonk..”
i think those are words you were looking for!

Huwwilli
Huwwilli

Can someone explain to me the connection between the riots and Health and Safety please?

Heatherfitsell
Heatherfitsell

I have to agree with HDW and Steve, I too fail to see the connection. Please can this be explained in layman’s terms?! The explanation of why is simple “just because”.

Gjordan
Gjordan

I agree that H&S were not the catalyst to the riots it is fact the UK has lost it’s way in a litigation society, where common sense in schools, work etc has completely eroded so i believe it is right to challenge safety in terms of culture. How much do bad and negligent employees cost the Uk by not using common sense then blaming H&S culture within their work area ?
Society needs some short sharp shocks implementing to get a sesnse of reality back to allow employers to safely get uk growing

Gazz1998
Gazz1998

Has Mr Cameron completely lost his marbles?! Is he so desperate to find something to blame, other than our obvious disrespectful culture, that he uses Health and Safety as a reason behind these animals acting without common sense?!

If he intends to go down that road then why don’t we start blaming Health and Safety for the rise in petrol prices, the fall of the housing market and Camerons God awful haircut!

And some people wonder why I don’t vote anymore!

Dorothy
Dorothy

Oh good for you.I am a f ounder member of a campaign group called Families Against Corporate Killers.We have all suffered the killing of a family member by an employer who ignored health and safety laws We have repeatedly requested a meeting with Chris Grayling to discuss our grave fears that his decimation of HSE will lead to many more workers being killed He refuses to discuss it and lies about the number of fatalities That is how little this government cares about your H&S

Donald-100
Donald-100

Yet again Mr Cammeron looks to blame anyone and everyone around him, for what took place during this time of unrest. Maybe he should be looking closer to home where because of the cuts in society and the small communities, we now have a (culture of I want what I have not worked for) but because I see someone with something I have not got I want it, and I will have no matter what the cost. (Culture)

Dmilner
Dmilner

Please stop this person from involving Health and Safety with the recent riots across the U.K!
Mr Cameron has obviously lost the plot here (article above). Companies and human factor failings are the reason for so many incidents, accidents, injuries and fatalities. Not Health and Safety? Mr Cameron needs to look at the intergrated societal cacophony that has become Britain. One responsible society…Not yet, not now…possibly not ever. Too much greed and want to have’s is what we have become.

Djd1Wilson
Djd1Wilson

How is this anything to do with Health and Safety? As some who has worked on the front line I know that it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with H&S. Downright thuggery,thievery and wanton destruction. Nothing else. It’s high time the Government and others got off the gravy wagon of heaping blame on Health and Safety and got on with proper governance. Perhaps some of them should actually get to understand what Health and Safety is about instead of jumping on our backs all the time

Alan
Alan

When will ministers get on board that Health and Safety is about ‘at work’. The PM should be taking note that fatals are on the rise. It is sad to say citing health and safety culture somehow contributed to the recent riots may end up with the Pm with egg on his face. His approach is moving towards giving a licence for employers to continue kill workers at work without any comeback. He talks too much.

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