Health and Safety Chat

Health and safety gone mad

Susan Rhodes

17 January 2017

Have you heard of the Health and Safety police? These are the people espousing their version of Health and Safety. We have all seen the headlines about Health and Safety gone overboard.

  • The customer that had to leave a café because the staff wouldn’t let her baby use a dummy
  • The office that wouldn’t put up a Christmas tree
  • The company that didn’t have a Christmas party

People have been told that health and safety prevents them from doing something when the reality is that the companies concerned have opinions or policies that they are enforcing, but blame Health and Safety because they think that people won’t question the decisions. These decisions give Health and Safety professionals and the industry a bad name.

The latest incident that I heard of was a landlord that has been told that Worksafe has banned their lawn mowing contractor from mowing the lawn on one of their properties because the lawn is too steep and dangerous to mow. Apparently, Worksafe came in audited them and showed them how to mow a lawn, then banned them from doing certain lawns. I really do find it very difficult to believe that Worksafe would stop a professional from doing their job because it is too dangerous, knowing that an untrained person will have to then complete the task.

The latest incident that I heard of was a landlord that has been told that Worksafe has banned their lawn mowing contractor from mowing the lawn on one of their properties because the lawn is too steep and dangerous to mow.

It is more likely that Worksafe has asked the contractor what training they have had, what their risk management processes were, and after the audit requested they reduce the risks of the activity to as low as reasonably practical. The contractor has then decided that this is in the “too hard basket”, they may have even wanted to get rid of their difficult to mow lawns and this was an easy way of doing so.  Because, after all, everyone believes that Worksafe stop companies doing their jobs.

Think about it, if this is true then why hasn’t Worksafe closed the forestry, manufacturing and agriculture industries.  These are the industries that are killing and maiming people, but if they did close them the country would come to a halt.

The new legislation does not prohibit you from doing your work or out of work activities. What it does require, is that you reduce the risk of injury in the work place, to as low as reasonably practical.

What is the Health and Safety risk of a child with a dummy at a cafe, none: there may be hygiene risk to the child, but not to other customers or staff, and if a parent decides that hygiene is not a problem, then who are we to argue with them? It is more likely that the café manager doesn’t approve of the dummy.

We have been putting up Christmas trees for hundreds of years, why is it suddenly too dangerous. Let’s reduce the risk to as low as reasonable practical by using a step ladder to put up the star on top of the tree

Companies are usually worried about drunk driving on the way home from a Christmas party. But the risks of this can be reduced by being a good host: providing food, non-alcoholic drinks, requiring sober drivers for staff, providing taxis etc.

When presented with a “oh no we can do that”, or “we can’t let you do that” because of Health and Safety ask “WHY”. What is the valid health and safety reason that this activity can’t be done? When you question the motives behind the bans, you may find there is another reason such as company policy, lack of knowledge, personal opinions etc.

Lets get practical about Health and Safety

Remember health and safety does not have to be hard If you have had a run in with the “safety police” and would like some practical advice that is line with your business the give Smart Safety a call and we can help you go through simple steps that will not only keep you safe but also help with covering your due diligence! Steve, Smart Safety Solutions.

Contact either Steve or Susan for a free confidential chat.
Susan 021 570 570 or Steve Schroder 021 452 930.

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