‘Elf and Safety Gone Mad – We’re Lucky to Have Legislation and Enforcement in the UK.

‘Elf and Safety Gone Mad – We’re Lucky to Have Legislation and Enforcement in the UK.

14th May 2018

Here in the UK, we’re a nation of wry comics and we like nothing better than to poke fun at ourselves.  This is particularly obvious when it comes to our attitude towards health and safety, with many of us bemoaning ‘elf and safety gone mad!  We’re constantly on the lookout for activities that have been banned or curtailed in recent times due to health and safety legislation.  Who can forget the “ban” on playing conkers in the autumn or recent advice that kids shouldn’t climb trees?  We look back fondly on the days when we were free to take gambles with our lives (and often lucky enough to get away with it), complaining every time we come up against safety advice “We’re not allowed to do that anymore because of health and safety”. 

However, we are lucky here in the UK that we have stringent health and safety legislation designed to protect us in the workplace and in public spaces.  This legislation is strengthened by the strict enforcement processes we enjoy that are designed to ensure compliance with the legislation – processes and legislation that are not available in many other countries around the world.  Today’s story demonstrates perfectly just how much we benefit from our legislation and enforcement processes.

A British worker died last year after falling a staggering 40 metres (131 ft.) from rigging whilst working on the Khalifa stadium in Doha, Qatar.  Some reports indicate that forty year old Zac Cox was working on a catwalk which collapsed after lever hoist equipment failed, whilst others report that his safety harness broke.  Whichever version is correct, a coroner’s inquest in England ruled that Mr. Cox died as a direct result of being asked to use equipment that was “not fit for purpose”. 

According to the coroner, several managers on the project knew that they were requiring a group of workers to rely on potentially lethal equipment.  Changes introduced to speed up installation of the catwalks were “chaotic, unprofessional, unthinking and downright dangerous” in the coroner’s view.  In order to speed up the building of the stadium’s roof, additional lever hoists were brought into play, hoists which contractors knew appeared rusty and  did not have current safety certificates, with bolts missing, mechanisms not functioning correctly and other parts missing.

Here at Safety Fabrications we can’t stress enough the importance of complying with health and safety legislation, especially in the construction industry.  The regulations have resulted in a slow but steady decrease in the number of accidents in the workplace which is what it’s designed to do.  Like everybody else here in the UK, we’re aware that the legislation is often misinterpreted and sometimes incorrectly applied to mundane activities (like playing conkers and climbing trees), but we should lose sight of the fact that the UK is one of the safest countries in the world in which to work, thanks in no small part to the combination of strict regulations and an effective enforcement process.  It’s the security and confidence of knowing how safe we are which allows us to sometimes diss the rules and take the mickey when it comes to health and safety.