Head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, Tom Jones discusses research by the University of Exeter into reported health and safety myths
Research from the University of Exeter, which analysed more than 250 cases submitted by the public to the Health and Safety Executive’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel, has uncovered some of the reasons why health and safety regulations are sometimes used incorrectly or blamed for over-the-top restrictions on people’s lives.
The report is not focused on workplace health and safety issues and fails to look at the very real effects of health and safety negligence in the workplace.
According to the HSE during 2013/14, 1.2 million working people suffered from a work-related illness, 133 were killed at work and 78,000 suffered injuries in the workplace.
These shocking statistics highlight the importance of health and safety regulation, and it is in this area that the HSE should be focussing its efforts. Sadly too much HSE time is currently spent seeking to combat myths perpetuated by certain newspapers and the insurance industry for ‘entertainment’ or to detract from the real issue of employer negligence.
The HSE was put in place to investigate occupational health and safety issues. It should therefore be given adequate resources to do so rather than be side-tracked and distracted. Less time on a sideshow would enable the HSE to investigate and prosecute employer malpractice and protect workers through better education, robust regulation and more workplace inspections.
While some of the extreme cases of health and safety we read about in the media may seem over the top, ultimately negligence costs lives and health and safety at all levels and is no laughing matter. Following regulations can prevent needless injuries and loss of lives.
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