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September 13, 2010

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Safety thrill-seekers seek North Pole sponsorship

Four health and safety officers have launched their bid for sponsorship of their trek across the Arctic to the North Pole.

The four men, who call themselves ‘Health and Safety Gone Mad’, decided in 2009 to tackle the tabloid myth that ‘’elf and safety’ stops people from carrying out risky activities by taking part in as many risky events as they could. They aim to draw the distinction between the health and safety litigation ‘compensation culture’, which stifles adventure and fun, and real health and safety at work, which is about managing – not avoiding – risk to prevent serious injury and death.

Members of the team have so far surfed the Severn Bore, walked on fire, and taken part in the World Bog Snorkelling Championships, World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing Championships, Great Spitalfields Pancake Race, and Worthing Birdman competition – the kind of traditional events so often discouraged by compensation-culture fears.

The focus of the team’s latest efforts is the 2012 Polar Challenge, a hazardous 400-mile unaided race to the North Pole, which poses a very real risk of polar-bear attack and frostbite along the way. Their main training event is an attempt to race teams 150 miles in Arctic conditions across the frozen length of Siberia’s Lake Baikhal.

The team is now seeking sponsorship for their quest. Said team member Roger Garbett: “We’re four health and safety officers hoping to slay the ‘’elf and safety gone mad’ myth by taking part in what most people would regard as a dangerous and mad activity – hiking across the Arctic unaided. We’ll have to manage the serious risks of frostbite from wind-chill temperatures of minus 60OC, falling through thin sea ice and, of course, the prospect of polar bear attack. We’ll show that health and safety is there to enable risks to be managed safely, not to prevent people from doing fun, or even risky activities.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll attract support from people who appreciate a healthy dose of British eccentricity, fun and madcap adventure – all conducted in the safest possible manner!”

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