Take care

An utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward

Health and Safety. It gets everywhere. Even children’s TV programmes. There was a Health and Safety inspection at the racetrack on Roary the Racing Car this morning and, although everyone passed in the end, it was touch and go for some of them.

Anyway, it got me thinking. How often have we all, at some point, thought ‘oh here we go, yet more H&S regulation getting in the way of us doing our jobs?’ How many times have we rolled our eyes at the news that yet another event or traditional game has been banned in the name of Health and Safety (or, more accurately, in the name of being able to get insurance cover)? How many jokes have we made about the need to do a risk assessment before you make a cup of tea or cross the road?

Sometimes it comes in for some bad press and deservedly so when it’s a way of people just covering their own backs.

Most of the companies I know, however, take this incredibly seriously, both on the merchant and manufacturing sides. BMJ worked quite closely with Lafarge group a few years ago promoting their ‘zero tolerance on accidents’ policy, for example. Sometimes though, something happens which reminds us that, in fact, we do deal with some really potentially very dangerous products in this industry.

The tragic accident which befell Alan McKenna at Build Center in Derby last week really brought this fact home to me. Now I don’t know enough about the details to make any real comment, and I am certainly not implying that this was anything other than the most appalling accident and my heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of that poor man, who must all be going through hell.

Panes of glass, concrete blocks, fork lift trucks, great packs of timber, cement bags, rolls of insulation, lengths of timber, paving slabs, crane off-loaders, lorries, sheet materials, plasterboard, doors, machinery: I’ve heard of accidents of various degrees with all of these and more.

H&S regulation might seem like yet another burden on businesses already struggling to keep going through the recession, and it might seem like yet more of the nanny state’s interference but it matters.

It’s a dangerous old world out there. Take care.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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