If you were to believe all you examine and hear you could be forgiven for questioning that the State, and greater especially the organization charged with keeping fitness and protection across the land, had been the final laughing police.
“Health and protection regulations”, we are instructed, imply fanatics can’t run on to soccer pitches to have fun their groups’ triumphs. They are behind nightclubs banning certain types of dancing and chargeable for restaurants being unable to microwave an infant’s home-cooked stew or a tea drinker being forbidden from using their personal cup on a educate.
Want to convey a bicycle on a ferry? No can do; health and safety say no. Even the banning of flower deliveries to hospitals has been blamed on fitness and safety guidelines.
While listening to such memories may make the informal observer throw their eyes to the heavens and pass approximately their day, Gavin Lonergan isn’t any casual observer. He works with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), a frame that offers with serious and frequently existence-and-dying problems. Like many of his colleagues, he’s endlessly dismayed by means of how often corporations and carrier providers use the fitness and safety clause to get out of doing things they don’t need to do.
“The laissez-faire use of ‘health and protection’ to prohibit, restriction or ban sure activities altogether offers the extreme position of occupational health and safety professionals a horrific call and, unsurprisingly, can lead to standard cynicism,” he says.
“We could simply be worried that severe fitness and protection subjects can be trivialized and no longer taken critically the extra we see of those seemingly frivolous examples.”
Lonergan says the HSA has “no function in connection with groups finding out customers can’t have teabags of their personal cups or saying children can’t play in playgrounds. So plenty of the stuff which you hear approximately is completely outdoor of our remit. We recognition on occupational safety and the regulation we perform below isn’t always approximately stopping humans from doing things but ensuring that humans are safe at paintings.”
He stresses that the HSA offers with very big troubles. “People can get killed on constructing websites or in different places if there are breaches in fitness and safety policies and what we are doing is a very severe factor and when you see this silly stuff cropping up it could take away from the importance of that work.”
He says that too often organizations the use of “health and safety” as a reason no longer to do things are doing so because what they want to do is both defend their revenue streams or guard themselves against prison difficulties that might get up ought to something horrific happen to someone the usage of their carrier or belongings.
“There is not any law stopping human beings walking on to a soccer pitch but the government would possibly need to forestall it due to the fact they deem there to be a threat to some human beings if it’s miles allowed. So the perfect component is to prohibit it.”
But, as Lonergan says, “you can’t dispose of hazard totally”.
He points out that if we had been severe approximately looking to do that we might “by no means depart our homes and there might in no way be a constructing website online allowed to perform in this USA once more. What we trying to do within the administrative center is to control that danger.”
He has a long list of examples of the misuse of the word “fitness and protection”. He cites the example of a ferry operator off the Irish coast which told travelers they could now not bring bikes on board over health and safety worries and the concern that somebody might ride over one of the bicycles. It may additionally or might not have been coincidental that there has been a bicycle condominium enterprise at the island where the boat turned into going that was involved it changed into losing a big chunk of commercial enterprise whilst vacationers got here with their very own motorcycles.
He also questions why some companies cite fitness and safety concerns as the cause of why they have to restrict family tickets to 2 adults and youngsters. “There are no health and protection problems in any way with greater than children being brought to a circle of relatives price ticket and in reality no rules preventing it however it would healthy companies to restrict to households that and use fitness and protection legislation as a smokescreen.”