Is common sense returning to Health and Safety?

Structures containing asbestos are marked
Image via Wikipedia

Are we finally turning a corner in our society’s love affair with the ‘no win, no fee’ compensation culture? A factor which taken alone,  has probably done more to damage the actual worth of Health & Safety legislation than any other in recent years.

IOSH – Industry news: A High Court decision that found company insurers should pay out to those who contracted fatal illnesses due to asbestos exposure has been overturned by the Court of Appeal. (Read more)

Although the courts still (rightly) accept employers should be liable for ‘work related injuries’, judges have bravely ruled; contracting mesothelioma (sometimes years after retirement), is no longer considered to be an ‘injury sustained at work’. This appears sensible at the outset however, could this also have implications for coal miners and pneumoconiosis?

Irrespective of the obvious personal and long-term financial implications of ill-health, is it right to expect an employer to pay compensation, especially as the disease was  unpredictable in reality? Can it be right that, with the benefit of hindsight (and subsequent advancements in medical science), that our legal system is able to punish an individual (or organization) financially by awarding retrospective compensation? In many of these compensation cases consideration for actual realities appears to have been lacking.

A major reason behind organisations, businesses and local authorities being seen as ‘kill joys’ or the ‘fun police’ is, the incessant and excessive application of ‘control measures’ in the name of Health & Safety. Far too often H&S legislation is (wrongly) cited as the reason why activity can’t be carried out, usually born out of an inherent fear of a financially crippling lawsuit.

Perhaps (finally) we are seeing some common sense breaking through?

One thought on “Is common sense returning to Health and Safety?

  1. Health and Safety is something we need more of around the world, though when it deprives us of the office kettle and a decent cop’s ability to help us with a spare wheel one just wants to pull hair out. Just as I got my kettle back at the last place I was full-time at, ‘data protection’ took over as the bete noir of getting anything done. Clowns with DP in their job titles sprang up everywhere advising we should publish nothing so as not to break DP rules.
    It’s not over by a long chalk I’m afraid, and all that is happening in law is a removal of individual rights. It’s a complicated story, but my sense of current moves is that, for instance, cops will find themselves deployed on their own as we once were and back-up will become increasingly thin. H & S and HRM types will then become cover-up people when something bad happens.
    This area is a much tougher chestnut than most suppose.


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