The arrogance of the anti health and safety lobby in Bristol

6 03 2013

A few months back a public argument broke out about a report recommending the installation of railing outside the Mshed. If I recall correctly the Mayor, Cllr Richard Eddy & a Bristol Post Editorial weighed in condemning “health and safety culture”.

Both I as a practitioner with experience of Health and Safety Law and @BristolTUSH the Health and Safety experts in the Joint Trade Union Office warned that Bristol should follow this recommendation.
Essentially the simple argument for railing was that foot fall increased along the docks and whilst the likelihood of a slip or trip into the docks was low the risk had increased, the potential consequence (death or serious injury) was high and should be guarded against.

The report was not out of the ordinary and based on a simple assessment of risk and possible control measures, that those in the sector with expertise are familiar with.

But then the usual lobby stepped in with no information, no knowledge of the criteria and no understanding of risk management and the Mayor a populist by heart sided with the Mshed and the anti health and safety lobby.

At 7.05 this morning a cyclist fell off the docks outside MShed. Avon and Somerset have confirmed this man has died.

No one ever points to the bombastic objections of the anti health and safety lobby in these situations. No one ever points to the grand sweeping statements based on ignorance but asserted as fact. No one ever reminds people that they described this proposal as “excessive nannying.” No one ever points to the fact that the health and safety expert was right and tabloid editorials and right wing politicians including our Mayor ignored that advice.

A man has died and our City may possibly have prevented it.

This is a tragedy. If it was preventable it is even more so.

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5 responses

6 03 2013
turningbristolred

It’s been pointed out that whilst a Candidate Mayor Ferguson said
@GeorgeFergusonX Proposal for railings on Bristol City Docks is product of blame culture. Lets free our cities of unnecessary barriers. http://t.co/DbgZHYmR 8:51 PM Jun 25th, 2012 from web

6 03 2013
Paul Bemmy Down

Don’t know whether railing would have saved this poor chap, but as a regular walker on the docks, I agree completely. I think they actually improve the appearance. I also remember when a guy from Bedminster fell in, in a wheelchair. He was in the water for 20mins and amazingly survived, but it was a very traumatic time and people risked their own lives, plus Fire Brigade, to get him out. Health and safety is another example of what is really very important, being discredited by some extreme cases. Here I agree with you.

7 03 2013
thebristolblogger

This seems like a rush to judgement before the facts have been ascertained.

7 03 2013
turningbristolred

What we know is that he fell from the dockside next to Mshed. He’s described as a cyclist. It’s reasonable to assume from that phrase he’s therefore in motion one way or another. I do qualify my blog by saying if it may have been preventable it’s a tragedy

7 03 2013
Dave Roberts

Great point very well made – ignoring experts is far to common especially among those that claim everything should be down to “common sense” – normally right wingers who also dislike safety legiation as it stops then treating people as expendable

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