Friday, October 15, 2010

Health and Safety Hysteria in the Media

Financial Times [UK]
15 October 2010

Westminster Blog

Lord Young admits that many “health and safety” scare stories are “hysteria”

by Jim Pickard

In December 2009 David Cameron made a speech in which he promised to reduce the burden of health and safety. His most heart-rending example was that of a small boy who drowned while fishing for tadpoles. As Cameron told his audience:

What’s more, the fear of transgressing all these rules causes
people to stand aside when others need help.

This was most tragically illustrated in Wigan two years ago,
when a ten year old drowned in a pond, having rescued his
young sister, because officers were told not to intervene as they
hadn’t undertaken their ‘water rescue’ health and safety training.

But was it a true story?

Cameron commissioned former Tory minister Lord Young to write a report on health and safety, which was published today. [...]

Lord Young even helpfully provided some examples of nonsense stories which had made it into folklore: One of them, curiously, was the pond story cited by Mr Cameron last year. [...]

HM Government, October 2010

Common Sense and Common Safety

A report by Lord Young of Graffham to the Prime Minister following a Whitehall-wide review of the operation of health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture

[See Annex D: Behind the myth: the truth behind health and safety hysteria in the media, pp. 49-50.]