The individuals in authority, for example, employers have the responsibility of ensuring the health and safety of all who are under them, hence the establishment of health and safety policies. Health and safety is a body of regulation that guides and protects the total well-being of all members of public, for example, in the workplace, at school and other public areas. In the UK, the health and safety act is found in Chapter 37 of Health and Safety Act of 1974. This article gives a number of provisions regarding health and safety, for example, it provides that the welfare of individuals at work should be protected from risks related to their activities, harmful objects, and substances. Despite of these regulation, the myths of health and safety of members of public half-extended half-life in the UK, there is too much regulation on health matters, hence the term Health and Safety Gone Mad (Airs web, 2014). Majority of these problems have been associated with political issues and are viewed as symbols of the socio-political issues with the government. Some organization have taken advantage of the health and safety policy to engage in some ill practices, for example, event organizers who go bankrupt while planning for events cancel the events on the eleventh hour citing health and safety reasons (Bloom, 2014). This, among other unreasonable health measures, has been disputed by those affected. Similarly, The Health and Safety Executive have initiated a Myth Buster Challenges Panel in order to dispute these unreasonable decision based on health and safety. This paper discusses a number of health and safety policies that have contentious.
According to the Huffington Post publication of December 12 2012, Health and Safety Gone Mad: Bans On Yo-Yos, Knitting Needles Branded 'Silly' By Executive, the managements of both small and big companies have been at crossroads with their employees, similarly institutions have also been at loggerheads with their subject because of the unnecessary health and safety policies that are put in place as a result of previously occurring accidents. Several companies have put in place rules that employees consider extremely restrictive and limiting to their freedom within their organization. The management expects these rules and regulations to be followed un-opposed. This has left members of staff in a dilemma of exactly what to do and what not to do.
One of the rules regarding health and safety measure that has reached the tables of HSE is the ban of the traditional hart celebration by grandaunts during celebration in Cambridge’s Ruskin University, one of the leading Universities in UK (McQueen, 2008). This law was introduced after one of the graduates was suffered injuries as a result of the traditional hart celebration during one of the graduation events in the university. This law has been considered a major hindrance to the celebration during graduation ceremonies. The administration of this university introduced a new health and safety law that barred students from posing for photos while throwing up their hats in celebration of their hard-earned degrees. This is in an effort to prevent the repeat of a similar incident of injury like the one previously experienced. Following the reaction of those affected by this policy, this law is considered unnecessary because it denies them their right as a result of a very minor event. Some of those affected even compared it to the banning of all graduation ceremonies because one of the grandaunts suffered injuries in an accident that he encountered while coming for a graduation ceremony. Personally, I disagree with this ban. In my opinion, I would suggest that the administration of this university to reverse this policy. A solution to this accident lies upon the grandaunts. In my opinion, they should extra careful with this celebration. The HSE also concluded that the throwing of hats is not a major threat to health and safety, thus should not be denied to students because it a lifetime opportunity.
Another “insane” health and safety measure that has fallen under the scope of HSE is the coffee conundrum, whereby most management of organizations have banned the presence of cups of coffee in their offices citing health and safety measures within the working environment (McQueen, 2008). Organizations have introduced ban on kettles a move that is denying employees to have hot drinks in offices. Employees have disagreed with this policy stating that the presences of drinks in the offices are not a threat to health and security. Some of the complaints given out by employees are that this is a denial to their right of a comfortable working environment. According to the Health and Safety Act of 1974, the employee has the responsibility of providing friendly working environment to their employees. This includes giving due consideration to office ergonomics. In addition to this, they should make sure that their employees are comfortable. Having a hot drink in the office is one way of ensuring that your employees are comfortable in the office. Having drink breaks at some, point during the work will refresh the employees. Drinks such as coffee will also act as stimulants to the employees. Therefore, in my opinion, I would provide a solution to this situation by asking managements to allow their employees to carry drinks to the office, but urge them to be careful, particularly with office equipments, for example, computer peripherals. The HSE have highlighted this case, and their final conclusion was that this is a very weak and poor excuse to deny employees the opportunity of having hot drinks at the comfort of their offices.
Health and safety measure policies have not spared even the dignitaries in UK. Another unreasonable health and safety measure that has been disputed by the HSE is the flag fiasco that involved the mayor of Maid Stone Mrs. Denise Joy when the flag crest was removed from her car (Trainer, 2014). When the media asked the reason behind this decision, the mayor said that she was asked by governmental authorities on the basis of health and safety measures. In a statement by the council officials, the flag on the mayor’s car posed safety threats to pedestrians and other road users in the event of its falling off. How the flag becomes a threat to health and safety was not clear to many. Based on this decision, councilor Mortimer Brian questioned the presence of a flag on the Queen’s limousine. Mayor Joy was deprived of her flag on the basis of health and safety measures, how about the queen’s limousine? Is it not a threat to health and safety? In my opinion, I think that this was a decision to reduce the value of the mayor’s car as compared to that of the queen. The flag on the limousine of the queen is a national emblem symbolizing her authority in UK.
As aforementioned, health and safety measures has gone mad because it has been used as a disguise to make certain decisions, otherwise, if the flag on the queen’s limousine is not a threat to health and security, then there is no way the flag on the mayor’s car qualifies to be a threat to health and security. On a similar note, an England fan lost his job during the 2014 World Cup when he protested the call to remove the English flag from scaffolding because it was a threat to his health and safety. HSE disputed this decision because it made the victim lose his job.
Rules and regulations on Health and safety measure have affected major business operators, for example, the risks associated with carrying a knife led to the banning of burger van operators from cutting their consumers burgers into two equal halves (Trainer, 2014). This was to reduce accidents that are related to carrying knives around. Similarly, Moyles Chris, one of the UKs most famous DJs become a victim of the ban of knives when he came to the studio with a surprise birthday cake for Vitty Dave. In this case, he was forced to use a plastic knife to prevent him from injuring himself with a metallic knife. In my opinion, the above scenarios are perfect examples of health and safety measures gone mad in UK. This is because the regulations are unreasonable, considering the fact that these are grown-ups who are very unlikely to injure themselves with knives. I agree with HSE that there is no regulation of health and safety that should bar a trained and qualified caterer operating a burger van from using a knife in the process of serving his customers. Therefore, my solution to the threats brought about by carrying knives around is urge parents to keep knives away from reach of children, and also to apply strict laws to prevent ill intended, for example, drug peddlers and mentally challenged individuals adults from roaming around with knives.
Health and safety rules and regulation have gone mad at the workplace and offices in the UK where there are rules and regulations that have banned employees from hurting themselves (Trainer, 2012). This policy has been introduced in the workplace as a precautionary measure by the management to reduce injuries at the workplace. This law requires that employees book a porter in case he or she wants to move a chair around the office. This booking is supposed to be carried done on a notice of 48 hours. Those who are affected have considered this law ridiculous. In real sense, to follow this procedure is time consuming for nothing. Adults in the working place are very responsible individuals who should not be subjected to such rules and regulations. Despite that, it is the responsibility of the employers to ensure the safety of his employees; this measure is an extreme one. This is a law that should be repealed and eliminated from offices. In my opinion, the best way to manage this situation is to leave the task and responsibility of moving chairs around the office to the management. In this case, the management should put in place specific people who are given the duty to move chairs and tables as required by the employees. This will help in saving time while at the same time ensuring the health and safety of employees in offices.
Another aspect of the madness of health and safety measure is the story of Suffolk County Council, which banned the positioning of flower baskets on the St. Edmunds streets citing threat to health and safety of members of the public who use the streets (Sharp, 2009). This story was reflected on the News Website of BBC whereby the county government banned these baskets stating that they are risks to the health and safety of members of the public. HSE refuted these claims, calling it unreasonable. In my opinion, this situation can be managed and eliminate any form of risks posed by the flower baskets if the responsible council members effectively do their work. The flower baskets should be placed in strategic positions with strong support in order to ensure that they are threats to health and safety. Below is a graphical representation of deaths that has been caused by lack of implementation of health and safety law according to research by HSE.
In conclusion, health and safety are critical to all members of the public, therefore, a lot of precautions should be taken in order to protect people from unnecessary injuries. The UK has put in place more rules and regulations regarding safety and health care than any other country in the world. This is a good idea; however, these measures have gone overboard. The implementation of health and safety measures is hindering those whom it is supposed to protect from enjoying their freedom. Therefore, certain decisions that are considered unreasonable should be reversed. It is a good initiative by the HSE to look into the various health and safety decision that are infringing into the freedom of the citizens of UK.
Airs web. “Stop! Beware of health and safety gone mad” September 1, 2014. Web 28 October 2014. <http://www.airsweb.com/blog/posts/2014/september/stop!-beware-of-health-and-safety-gone-mad/>
Bloom, Dan. “Elf and safety has gone mad'! Now school bans RUNNING in the playground in case children fall over” January 17, 2014.Web 28 October 2014.<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2541423/Elf-safety-gone-mad-Now-school-bans-RUNNING-playground-case-children-fall-over.html>
McQueen, Craig. “The crazy world of health and safety rules” November 20, 2008. Web 28 October 2014.<http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/the-crazy-world-of-health-and-safety-rules-998592>
Sharp, Rob. “From a reported ban on hanging baskets to rules on playing conkers - has a health and safety brigade really gone mad?” December 17 2009. Web 28 October 2014.<http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/healthy-living/from-a-reported-ban-on-hanging-baskets-to-rules-on-playing-conkers--has-the-health-and-safety-brigade-really-gone-mad-1842878.html>
The Huffington Post. Health and Safety Gone Mad: Bans On Yo-Yos, Knitting Needles Branded 'Silly' By Executive. December 12 2012. Web 28 October 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/24/health-safety-executive-laws-mad_n_2357967.html>
Trainer, Andy. “Health and Safety Gone Mad: HSE Myth Busting” November 9, 2012. Web 28 October 2014.<http://www.siliconbeachtraining.co.uk/blog/health-safety-myth-busting>