View Full Version : Help please; Persuasive Speech on Health and Safety

8th Feb 2009, 14:05
My daughter is having to write a persuasive speech. She has decided to write hers on 'Has health and safety gone too far?'
As many of the people are or were involved in the aviation industry, have you any personal incidents of health and safety gone too far?

Any incidents (inside or outside of the industry) would be greatly received. The more bizarre the better!!

Many thanks

Ivan and Molly.

8th Feb 2009, 14:44
Let me start by saying that I no longer work in the aviation industry. I now earn a crust working in the petrochemical industry. There are however, a number of parallels to be drawn with the aviation world in terms of safety. Most importantly, if we **** up, people tend to die.

So the proposition is:

'Has health and safety gone too far?'

From my point of view it has not gone far enough (standby for incoming on this thought). My view is that everyone has the right to go to work and EXPECT to come home unhurt.

Oh, sure. There are some idiocies out there in terms of some of the individual rules and regs that go through the system unchecked and with a lack of application of common sense. In the same way there are some companies out there that pay lip service to industry standards and to applicable legislation. And you will find a few of these in the aviation world.

Much of the argument your daughter intends to expound is based on what I would call 'macho' attitudes. Forget that. It hurts people.

Sorry mate, while people are still being injured or killed at work, the fact is that the education, training (and legislation) of the companies that employee decent people to work for them still needs to be stronger.


(all accidents are avoidable)

west lakes
8th Feb 2009, 15:16
Picking up from Lars, I have been involved with H&S for over 20 years. In that time I have not seen any legislation that goes too far, what I do see far too often is individual/group interpretation of legislation that goes too far!
Whilst those involved think they are doing a good job, often, it denigrates the intent of legislation to a degree that makes the resulting "outcry" and reaction lead to risks. These decisions are, in my view, nothing to do with H&S but more to do with fears (ofen unfounded) of liability. And the "own agenda" of insurance companies (I have experienced this)
It's easier to say no than work to find a safe solution to allow an activity to go forward. Which is the intent of the legislation!

Outside aviation by far the majority of H&S legislation is non-proscriptive and puts the onus to develop safe working practices to the employer
Look up "The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974", and "The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1992" on the internet.
There is little or any "you will do this in this situation" and lots of "employers/emploees should/must develop proceedures"

8th Feb 2009, 15:47
I totally agree with what you have said. We only need to look at Busters post on his training on bushfires to show that. I should have been more clear in my request. She needs to show both the positive and negatives. Things like the famous banning of playing conkers by kids at school as it was deemed dangerous and then the risk assesment that said they could if they wore goggles and gloves. I used to risk assess myself for about 10 years, (predominantly fire safety) so I too know the good it does, but, sometimes, are things taken too far? Do I need a warning on the side of the milk carton in the fridge telling me that it MAY contain milk? Health and Safety undoubtedly needs tightening up across a wide spectrum of industries. Are the rules being brought in mainly because people are becoming more cosseted and unaware of real world dangers and the 'sue them' culture that pervades everyday life?

8th Feb 2009, 17:46
I suppose that if the concept of protecting people from every possible threat to their safety in any undertaking is taken to its extreme, people may give up entirely on thinking for themselves, in the belief that 'they' wouldn't let you do it if it were dangerous.

I recall being in a yacht about 500 nm south-west of Australia when we had a fire on board. It was quite a serious situation, and two of our passengers said that if the worst came to the worst 'they' would send a helicopter to pick us up.

They were shocked to hear that we were actually very much on our own. I don't think they had ever felt so out of their comfort zone before.

This misplaced faith in 'them' saving one's bacon could be translated to using a machine tool. 'They wouldn't let a piece of machinery be sold if it didn't have fail-safes and guards against every risk it presented.' Hmm. Consider the hammer.

Proper instruction and the application of common sense is probably the best fail-safe and guard.

west lakes
8th Feb 2009, 17:59
The conkers one is interesting.
Yes a risk assesement would suggest gloves, goggles & adequate supervision.
Of couse in a "work" environment it is not permitted for employers to charge for H&S equipment.
So of course the schools would have to purchase, issue & control that equipment all of which costs money, so was the decision to ban the game for H&S or financial reasons?

8th Feb 2009, 18:09
'Neurotic' is the word I would use, Mr Lakes.

west lakes
8th Feb 2009, 18:50
Another side of the coin

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 say this: -

Work on or near live conductors
14. No person shall be engaged in any work activity on or so near any live conductor (other than one suitably covered with insulating material so as to prevent danger) that danger may arise unless-
(a) it is unreasonable in all the circumstances for it to be dead; and
(b) it is reasonable in all the circumstances for him to be at work on or near it while it is live; and
(c) suitable precautions (including where necessary the provision of suitable protective equipment) are taken to prevent injury.Now in the Electricity Supply industry probably more than 90% of the work done on the LV (230/400V) system is carried out with the system live.
Face it we couldn't switch supplies off to tens or hundreds of customers every-time we wanted to carry out some work.
Se we have the Risk assessments, procedures and training to do this work live and also to know when to do it with the system dead and isolated.

Following developments in other parts of the world it was realised that some limited work could be done on the 11kV system with that live. This actually started in the early 70's but the techniques available were unwieldy.
Later developments in equipment meant that we could do the work "hands on" from insulated cherry pickers.
At first sight the H.S.E. were reluctant to go down this line, but again the system worked to show that it was safe within the regulations. The only difference at this voltage is the need to produce written justification which takes account of the actual and possible effects on customers of the work being done with the system dead and isolated (and at that voltage connected to earth)

8th Feb 2009, 19:02
Boris. My belief was that the "school bans conkers" was something of an urban legend. Most of the "Health and Safety madness" stories in the newspaper are similar. The good old press gets hold of something, twists it and then publishes it. No way are they going to let the truth get in the way of a good story!

8th Feb 2009, 22:08
Health & Safety has gone too far when the rules are designed only to protect those responsible for the activity and insurance companies, rather than those who are at real risk. This is particularly so when safety procedures and equipment are so unpopular or cumbersome that those who carry out the activity will not use them. E.g. why does work stop when Unions work to rule?

My main H&S experience is with chemical hazards and I have lost count of the number of battles I have lost trying to get management to accept that, when it comes to some minor health hazards, it is better to give someone 95% protection which they will use, than to give them 100% protection which they won't.

west lakes
8th Feb 2009, 22:42
Pulse 1

I hear what you say, the legislation is designed to protect the employee, it's just that they have been subjugated to protect those not at risk (like the employer/insurance company)

A little Knowledge Goes a Short Way

Working on an 11kv Cable fault on a large factory site, we informed our contact of the problem (as we are required to) and set to work excavating the fault in a roadway.
Now as a statutory authority we have permission for our cable(s) to be there, we have a right to repair them, subject to informing the site authorities which we had done.
Short time after arrives their H&s gang
multi-questions about what we are doing, why we are doing it, why we hadn't informed them etc.
It then boiled down to what signing and guarding we were doing around the excavation to which I explained it would be/was all in accordance with Chapter 8 of the Road Traffic Acts, the standard/legislation that all companies that excavate in the highway work too.
So the first demand!! was for a copy of it (an A3 folder about 1inch thick) which was answered with go buy your own from HMSO
Then the sudden realisation that they didn't actually know what it was
That they as the site owner had no procedure to cover this type of work
and my comment that their H&S system was suspect if they didn't!
Face it here is a legal document that covers the safety requirements on roads, they have about 2 miles of them on their site so from an H&S point of view that is best practice and should be taken account of.
I did agree that as I was going back to the office to bring our copy to show them what I was talking about, did so which resulted in them leaving site quickly never to return.

It's common in private industry for companies to have procedures to cope with their own staff, to cope with contractors but not to cope with statutory authorities so they end up trying to adapt existing procedures to fit - usually resulting in adverse affects on our safety and conflicting with our H&S policies and our legal duties.

Though it is odd that if their electricity supply has failed we never ever see them!

Solid Rust Twotter
9th Feb 2009, 05:56
When the cycle of meetings and gum flapping becomes self sustaining without achieving anything other than to increase the size and inertia of the empire being built in the name of H&S, it's time to call a halt and reexamine why we're doing this. In many industries it's become the fastest growing segment and absorbs billions of dollars while doing not a lot more than reiterating the same thing over and over while eating up huge chunks of time in meetings that could otherwise be spent productively.

It has it's place as a streamlined and efficient advisory sector but the proponents have been allowed too much authority which has caused the "industry" to expand into a top heavy monster that feeds on it's own output, much like a self licking lollipop. It has become nothing more than a many headed bureaucratic arse covering exercise.

9th Feb 2009, 10:29
The level of paperwork I had to do (construction) when it came to risk assessments, coshh, etc was definitely a step too far.

Also, the garbage about the use of ladders/stepladders that came in in recent years is beyond a joke because it restricts your ability to work as not every place has the space for a working platform/scaffold/mewps/cherry picker. Why should we be hampered because a VERY small minority are so stupid they cannot use a set of stepladders safely!

9th Feb 2009, 10:34
Oh, and I was once told to stop working on a flat, fenced in roof because

a) I wasn't wearing a hard hat (guess they didn't want a seagull to poop on me as a hard hat wont do me much good if a 747 lands on me)
b) wasn't wearing a safety harness despite the roof being fully fenced in and I was working nowhere near the edge.

Oh, and this wasn't a construction site so the normal construction site "rules" on hi-vis/hard hats/gloves/eye protection did not apply.

Windy Militant
9th Feb 2009, 11:36
Had a reminder of what safety really means over Christmas when I heard that a chap I used to work for seriously injured himself with an angle grinder. I'm now working at a government establishment where it can be a pain, risk assessments safety courses etc, but then again It's better than nearly losing an arm.
A thought for those who suggest all HSE regs are nit picking a few years ago I did a refresher course on working at heights, this course was a general one rather than the mast course I usually do. They had a chart of fatalities in the previous year caused by working with ladders, 85% were due to sparkies falling off the bottom rung of step ladders while pulling cables, smashing the backs of their heads on the ground, there were no fatalities that year from people falling from TV or Radio masts.
Gave me a pause for thought.

9th Feb 2009, 11:57
So, Windy, the issue is not an actual danger but concerns people being idiots and not using things properly in the first case. Let's face it, if you do your arm in with an angle grinder then you are obviously doing something stupid as common sense tells you that your appendages should not be close to a spinning disc.

Now, your one about the stepladders proves my comment about the idiocy of the legislation restricting you going over 1m high on a stepladder as, by what you are saying, this will not make one jot of a difference to the stats as 85% of the accidents are at heights BELOW that! So where is the point in the "new" regulations? (by the way, you do know that the higher you go on a stepladder the better your chances of not getting a serious injury from a fall? When you are only 1m up you do not have time to react before impact, at 2m you do. I know that from experience too)

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not against safety in the workplace. I am against stupid, unnecessary regulation which completely hinders the ability to carry out the work. All I have ever wanted is common sense when it comes to H&S, not only from the HSE but also from those doing the work as a spark that needs to go up 6 inches to pull in a cable is being a fool as it's obvious that the work can be done from ground level (as a spark, I know that for a fact)

9th Feb 2009, 12:02
The conkers one is interesting.
Yes a risk assesement would suggest gloves, goggles & adequate supervision.
Of couse in a "work" environment it is not permitted for employers to charge for H&S equipment.
So of course the schools would have to purchase, issue & control that equipment all of which costs money, so was the decision to ban the game for H&S or financial reasons?

To go further with that one, you have to consider "adequate supervison". This entails making sure that those supervising are not only trained specifically in the art of playing conkers but are also qualified first aiders in case anything happens. Add in the refresher course needed annually and you see that the reason for banning was both H&S and financial as the cost of complying with the ridiculous H&S "policy" would be as ridiculous as the policy itself.

Solid Rust Twotter
9th Feb 2009, 12:15
The real problem is that in many cases it's no longer about safety but rather about justifying the existence of some paper shuffler with meetings for the sake of having meetings and nit picking of minutiae while the real issues go unresolved.

9th Feb 2009, 12:18
Exactly, SRT, it's regulations for the sake of tem so someone is seen to "be doing something".

Windy Militant
9th Feb 2009, 15:26
Having checked my notes under the 2005 working at heights regs the above 1m rule no longer applies, any height above ground is now covered which is why we had to do the same course for climbing a radio masts as the guys from the workshops climbing stepladders.
What we were told by the guy doing the training was that HSE had looked at the stats and were targeting this area because so many people who'd been in the industry for a long time were killing themselves doing just this.
Yes it's a stupid thing to do, but any one can have a moments thoughtlessness.
So the HSE has to act because they are also bound by the duty of care under the act.
And yes somewhere around my office I have a chart that tells me how many times I'll rotate in free fall from a given height before I hit the ground.

Solid Rust Twotter
9th Feb 2009, 16:33
Applicable procedures are no problem but as mentioned, meetings for the sake of meetings are an utter waste of time and can even be counter productive in that folks then rush to catch up the time wasted. Having a safety meeting every morning where you've already discussed everything there is to be discussed, but are still compelled to have a get together where everyone shuffles about picking their noses and avoiding each others' eye for ten minutes in order to sign off on a sheet that some paper shuffler requires to justify his futile existence, is a total waste of time and man power.

...And breathe......!:}

9th Feb 2009, 16:47
No Basil, all of these could have been prevented by COMMON SENSE and NOT "prevented by 'irritating' H&S procedures".

Are you telling me you have to be controlled because you don't have the intelligence to think "this could be dangerous", because that is what you are saying as by your own admission you freely put yourself in a dangerous position. Personally, I think you have the intelligence to excercise common sense so you should never be in that sort of position in the first case.

And H&S rules would never apply to you doing work on your own house (scaffold) as your own private work is not covered by legislation.

Rwy in Sight
9th Feb 2009, 21:09
How about the requirement to complete some forms before launching a SAR mission? There was a thread some time ago?

9th Feb 2009, 21:25
H&S rules do not prevent you from doing gas or electrical work in your home. In fact, you can do all the gas install yourself but it should be tested by a CORGI registered engineer. You can do all the electrical work in your house, and have it tested by someone with the relevant qualifications. You see, H&S only covers companies and their employees, private individuals in their own homes are not under the rules of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 is the law regarding installing gas and a private individual is NOT included in the regulations, only landlords/employers and employees/self-employed. The changes made by the Gov in 2005 state that if you do the electrical work in your own home it must be checked out by the local council building inspector.

So you see, the onus is on you to excercise sense and ensure what you are doing at home is "safe", and that isn't hard to do.

west lakes
9th Feb 2009, 21:32
checked out by the local council building inspector.

Only where building regs work takes place, otherwise an NICEIC registered Electrician with the relevant training/certificate can do it.
As an example one of the larger contractors round here employs about a dozen electricians for the installation work, but only two who can test & certify the work.

9th Feb 2009, 21:34
Yes, H&S has gone too far (or, as has been suggested, maybe organisations' interpretation of legislation has gone too far). I have noticed a huge increase in H&S initiatives in recent years - I see it as being largely a result of us going the way of the US i.e. litigation-tastic.

Common sense and taking personal responsibility should cover everybody but the problem is that common sense isn't that common and is a rather woolly concept. No one seems to put their hands up and say "You know what? What I did was dumb, I wasn't looking where I was going." either.

I'm a great believer in natural selection - my concern is that all this over-the-top H&S will dilute the gene pool and allow numpties, who would have ordinarily been killed off for being stupid, to prevail. Only half of my tongue is in my cheek ;)

Wow, that's better.

I'm not supposed to lean out of my flightdeck and wipe some crap of the windows now because it''s against working at height regs. Like I'm going to spend 20 minutes arranging a ladder or a lift to get me up there (with a high viz on, naturally). No, I'll spend 30 seconds doing is myself because it's pragmatic.

Anyone got any stats for how many people have come a cropper on the apron at big airports before high-viz jackets were made mandatory and where wearing one would have likely prevented the incident? I assume the H&S lobby must have done some research.

My other concern is that countless great achievements in history wouldn't be attempted now because of H&S concerns. There's a happy medium - at the moment, I think we're skewed too far towards the H&S side.

And I'm spent...

B&S :ok:

9th Feb 2009, 21:56
Nope, West Lakes, it's "significant" electrical work (eg, partial rewire) and any work you do in an area covered by the Part P (bathrools, kitchens, outdoors, anywhere where there's water like a laundry room).

For minor works, unless it's in an area covered by Part P, you don't even have to have it tested

west lakes
9th Feb 2009, 22:35
Hellsbrink I was using KISS.

Though as was pointed out somewhere else in most cases now insurance companies are asking for full testing - nothing to do with H&S just liability!

And that is one of the major stumbling blocks to a lot of sensible H&S