Flipping mad

PUBLISHED: 11:20 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 06 May 2010

SIR – The decision by SADC s Charles Baker to introduce a running ban into the annual pancake race (pictured left) is symptomatic of a malaise in the interpretation of Health and Safety (H&S) Law which is pervading almost every aspect of our lives. As cha

SIR - The decision by SADC's Charles Baker to introduce a running ban into the annual pancake race (pictured left) is symptomatic of a malaise in the interpretation of Health and Safety (H&S) Law which is pervading almost every aspect of our lives.

As chairman of the largest construction safety group in eastern England I do have some experience and can advise that there is not one single piece of H&S legislation or regulation which would, if interpreted correctly, have prevented the race being run in the normal way.

A reasoned risk assessment was all that was required with any undue hazards identified and managed.

The law accepts that the average citizen is quite capable of determining that concentrating on pancake tossing whilst running in the rain may increase their risk of falling and that, by participation, they have accepted that very reasonable risk.

I would suggest that Mr Baker's decision had a lot to do with where many officials get their help and advice on H&S issues from, which is generally from the relevant authorities' insurers. This advice generally produces understandings of situation management which have more to do with protecting the interests of insurers than the public.

I wonder where Mr Baker and his colleagues were several weeks ago when the pavements, which presented such a hazard on Tuesday, were covered in ice? When REAL H&S issues needed dealing with? When able bodied people risked life and limb getting about and the elderly and infirm were stuck indoors? As far as I am concerned they were nowhere to be seen.

One of the few good things about the recent snow was that the public, left largely to their own devices, managed admirably in very difficult circumstances and therein lies the lesson.

We do not need officials to take even the smallest decisions regarding our safety and sanitise every aspect of our lives, only to leave people to it when some real leadership is needed.

The flawed decision made by Mr Baker last Tuesday not only made St Albans a laughing stock but ultimately undermines public confidence in the competent operation of health and safety in this country.

RAE BORRAS

Chairman, Borras Construction Ltd


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