Most of the readership of Health and Safety Matters by definition will share the pain when they hear health and safety shouldering the blame for spoiling a whole range of things.
So it comes as no surprise that silencing of the bells including “Big Ben” during the renovation of The Elizabeth Tower in the Palace of Westminster brought out the derision of health and safety.
The BSIF is dedicated to supporting UK businesses that help to keep people safe and healthy at work and passionate that Safety and Health is universally recognised for what it is; a positive force for good. We know how important it is for all that the image of Health and Safety is strong and our focus on rehabilitating it is made necessary because it has become tarnished over the years through inaccurate reporting and being mendaciously used as an excuse to say no or stop an activity!
The rhetoric that surrounded the Big Ben story was of a different dimension and I quote from media reports ……“the Luftwaffe couldn’t silence Big Ben but health and safety has….”
During the spring of 2016, as the EU referendum debate raged on, senior politicians were citing health and safety as classic examples as to why we should be out of the EU. Despite the multitude of very real and complex issues we had health and safety being trotted out as an easy populist target. Spurious and unhelpful!
The Big Ben story is just a continuation of the battering that the image of the discipline receives. Surely it deserves better. The Tower (and Big Ben) is a British icon, arguably the most famous of them all and work needs done to make sure that it is preserved for the future. Those doing the renovation work over the coming years deserve to be safe and with the noise levels up to 120 decibels the risk to workers hearing would be acute. It should be so obvious, sadly not as obvious as health and safety is as a target for some.
These are not small bells as you can see below and in fact despite the clamour it is not the first time that they have been silenced in recent years. In the 70’s and mid 2000’s they were also out of action for renovation work to be done on the clock.
The UK has a superb record in health and safety and is recognised across the world for its excellence. The BSIF is proud of the culture within UK business that promotes the wellbeing of employees, and believes its members play a significant role in ensuring this continues.
Since the introduction of legislation in 1974 Britain has been a world leader in improving conditions for employees and has seen a dramatic reduction in accidents and illness. The introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act has seen fatal accidents at work fall by 85%, with an estimated 500 lives saved over this period. Increased protection, better working practices in the workplace and improvements in personal protective equipment have also seen improvements in the prevention of work related accidents, illness and death, although further strides are necessary.
The BSIF believes that the UK should celebrate this record and build upon it to make the UK workforce the most productive and safest in the world. Health and safety not only keeps the 31.42 million people who work in this country safe but improves the productivity of our economy. By protecting workers these regulations ensure that: fewer working days are lost to illness and injury; companies can act at their most productive; and fewer people are out of work on a long term basis. Too often the “man in the street” view of safety and health is that it’s burdensome. The Government and the media need to continue to spread positives, stressing that safety and health is a positive force for good, both for workers and business. Good Safety and Health is Good for Business and Helps GB to Work Well.s