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Take care out there

Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety

A tweet to my local paper (the 21st century equivalent of Dear Editor, I suppose) was moaning about some event or other that had been cancelled or curtailed because of “Health and Safety gone mad”.

When I looked into it, the truth was more that an over-anxious council officer with a basic knowledge of H&S legislation and a fear of insurance companies, had run scared at the possibility of injury-claims and was being cautious in the extreme.

I’ve blogged before about the fact that there is no-one more despairing of the knee-jerk blame-health-and-safety mantra than the Health & Safety Executive. Their Health & Safety Mythbuster column on their website is a long line of articles written to point out that, so often, the HSE is used as an excuse for sloppy customer service. You can almost hear the writer sighing as you read.

What is so ridiculous about this demonisation of the HSE is that they do a fantastic job, highlighting and prosecuting the worst excesses of carelessness, incompetence, stupidity and, in a few cases, blatant disregard for workers’ safety.

Allow me to share the headlines from a recent HSE Bulletin that hit my inbox:

Worker crushed between two vehicles

A waste management and plant hire company in Derbyshire has been fined after a worker was fatally crushed between two vehicles while refuelling.

Scottish Power fined £1.75m after worker seriously scalded

Scottish Power was fined after a worker was seriously scalded at Longannet Power Station in Alloa.

British Telecommunications PLC fined £600,000 after workers injured

British Telecommunications PLC has been fined after two of its employees were seriously injured in falls from height.

NHS Foundation Trust fined £200,000 for safety failings

An NHS Foundation Trust has been fined for safety failings in its management of the use and maintenance of Anetic Aid QA3 trolleys.

BUPA Care Homes fined £400,000 over bedrail failures

BUPA Care Homes (CFC Homes) Ltd has been fined over the inappropriate management of bedrails at one of its care homes.

Recycling company fined after worker was injured in machinery

A recycling company in Nantwich has been fined after a 24 year old worker was seriously injured when he was dragged into machinery.

Company fined for safety failings

A Bedford company that produces shower trays has been fined for safety failings following an inspection.

Death of road worker prompts HSE warning to HGV drivers

HGV drivers are frequently putting lives at risk by not following basic safety procedures when coupling and uncoupling vehicles, the Health and Safety Executive warned today.

Company fined for release of natural gas and crude oil

A Hampshire-based energy company has been fined for releasing natural gas and crude oil.

Kent tyre firm fined £1m after exploding tyre kills employee

A Kent tyre company has been sentenced for safety failings after 21-year-old Matthew Hoare, from Canterbury was killed when a tyre exploded.

Christmas Eve tragedy after man crushed by hydraulic ramp

A general haulage company from Dumfries has been fined after the tragic death of a man who was crushed by a failed hydraulic ramp on Christmas Eve.

Firms fined after worker loses fingers in power press

A London-based metal packaging company has been fined after a worker trapped his hand in a power press and lost two fingers.

Firm fined after two workers suffer severe electrical burns

An engineering company based in Birmingham has been fined after two workers suffered severe electrical burns

Clearly, not all of these incidents happened in this industry, but there’s enough people in me chanting who regularly handle dangerous machinery, heavy objects and moving vehicles, to say nothing of the occasional working at heights for this is to be relevant.

Be careful out there. Don’t be stupid, don’t take unnecessary risks and don’t let yourself, your colleagues or your employees turn up as a press release in my inbox.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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