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The road to hell is paved with good intentions

23 January 2013

Sometimes those who are immersed in health & safety can end up having a blinkered view of its wider perception

Sometimes those who are immersed in health & safety can end up having a blinkered view of its wider perception. Similar to when people visit the doctor and are economic with the truth about lifestyle choices, such as how much they drink or smoke, those who work in health & safety sometimes find themselves being told what they want to hear ie. a boss or company may say that health and safety is a top priority when this isn't necessarily the case. When the editor of one of HSM's sister publications Handling & Storage Solutions, showed me the results of a Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) survey about priorities for the Government's forthcoming Spending Review, it made for interesting and surprising reading.

Only 18% of the CILT membership, which includes managers and academics from the freight, logistics and passenger transport sector, felt health & safety was an area where spending should be protected and 44% felt it should be a priority area for cutting spending. (To read the full survey visit: www.ciltuk.org.uk) While it is debatable whether health & safety has yet truly become a boardroom issue, thanks to the introduction of legislation such as the Corporate Manslaughter Act it has certainly been moving up the corporate agenda. At the very least most businesses have, in recent years, begun to pay lip service to the issue. What is concerning is that research such as this could be symptomatic of a shift in attitude and a willingness to openly downplay the importance of health & safety.

With the results of Lord Young's review into health & safety due out in early September and details of the launch of a new register of safety consultants to follow, there is little doubt that the practice is about to be shaken up radically. But, economic factors aside, would the answers to this survey have been the same if the questions had been asked a year ago? Or do the findings of such surveys suggest that Lord Young's review and its surrounding publicity have sparked a dangerous disregard for health & safety? Until the review is released it is hard to second guess the details but if, as the CLT report suggests, one of the consequences is to degrade health & safety resulting in an increase in accidents and fatalities, the devil really will be in the detail.

Georgina Bisby
Editor, Health & Safety Matters