Where is health and safety when you need it?

Something I’ve always found a bit odd and somewhat irritating about living in the UK are the health and safety rules. For instance, you can’t enter a school building after 9am without someone buzzing you in. In Australia and New Zealand anyone can walk into school grounds and classrooms are all unlocked during lessons.

When we lived in York I was unable to volunteer as a parent helper for excursions because I didn’t pass the police check. This was because my Australian passport had my maiden name on it while my driver’s licence had my married name and they said this was insufficient to prove my identity.

Given my own experience and some of the stories I’ve heard from others about health and safety gone mad it is with complete astonishment that I now read about all the buildings in London that have failed a simple fire safety test. We won’t allow employees in large companies to walk around with a cup of hot coffee and yet we allow children to live in flammable buildings. There is something seriously wrong with policy-making to end up with this ridiculous situation.

3 thoughts on “Where is health and safety when you need it?

  1. There are several reasons..

    We have a very mawkish and very right wing set of tabloids; so any story involving harm to children gets endlessly hyped up. Hence the rules on being buzzed in to school, and on parent helpers, ‘think of the children’. On the other hand, those same papers will rail against ‘health and safety gone mad’ leading to the gutting of building regulations and especially enforcement of those regulations. There is a very strongly held belief in right-wing circles that ‘red tape’ and ‘health and safety gone mad’ are holding the economy back, although when pressed they tend to have problems finding examples, and even greater problems suggesting practical ways to improve things.

    There’s a separate US import of the litigation culture, leading to silly rules around hot drinks.

    1. Yes, I agree with all of this. In addition it might also be the cost. It doesn’t cost anything to prevent employees from walking around with a cup of coffee but non-flammable building materials are more expensive.

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