"Ignore the trivia and headline-grabbing bans, and keep a sense of proportion
when it comes to risk" said HSC Chairman Bill Callaghan speaking to members
of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)
in Yorkshire and Humber today.
Addressing an IOSH Yorkshire Branch seminar on 'The Modern Practitioner' in
Doncaster, Mr Callaghan pitched his message on sensible risk,
"According to some stories, health and safety is a millstone around the
neck of Britain, concentrating on trivial risks and petty bureaucracy to the
detriment of citizens. It bans everything from doormats to Christmas decorations
and makes children wear goggles while enjoying a game of conkers."
"The truth of the matter is that it is not desirable to eliminate risk
altogether - rather risks need to be managed sensibly and responsibly. We must
concentrate on practical steps to control the risks that cause real harm and
suffering, and not on bureaucratic back-covering. Let us be clear - health and
safety is about saving lives not stopping living."
"You and I know a rather different side of health and safety, the one
that has saved lives and that every day protects people from ill health and
injury. Furthermore, deaths in Great Britain have fallen from around 1000 each
year at the end of the 1960s to 212 in 2005/06. It concerns me greatly that
the image of health and safety as petty bureaucracy will damage our ability
to make a practical difference on the real risks."
21 of the workplace fatalities in 2005/6 occurred in Yorkshire & Humber.
With almost 2.4 million people economically active in the region, protecting
the health and safety of employees remains paramount in maintaining what is
a dynamic and vital part of the UK economy.
Mr. Callaghan went on to encourage IOSH members to recognise and embrace the
new challenges they face in protecting workers health and safety and warned,
"Failure to prevent ill health, especially that arising from work activities,
is expensive. As I'm sure you appreciate there are other costs to be factored
in, including those to the individual and society, if we do not achieve our
goal of employee well-being and healthy, safe workplaces."
"Our statistics show that 1 million people take sick leave every week.
Problems such as stress and back pain are having an enormous affect on workers,
their families and the economy and clearly demonstrate that we still have an
important role in protecting the health and well-being of workers."
Bill Callaghan emphasized that HSE's initiative last year on Sensible Risk
had won the broadest possible support from its partners including organisations
representing public and private sector employers, workers, insurers, lawyers,
volunteers, health and safety professionals and many others. IOSH members themselves,
he confirmed, have a key role in raising the profile of health and safety in
their workplaces and in their wider contacts.
Bill Callaghan also paid tribute to the work of Sheffield Occupational Health
Advisory Service (SOHAS) over many years in preventing and alleviating the effects
of occupational diseases and injury, saying that its success reflected the value
of network of stakeholders it had built to tackle work-related disease and injury."
On a closing note Mr Callaghan emphasized, that much more needs to be done
to achieve targets on reducing injury, ill-health and days lost in the workplace.
"Whilst the evidence shows that improvements are being made in some areas,
such as the on-going reduction in days lost, we must not lose sight of the task
ahead in preventing fatalities and major injuries."