How many times has some officious sounding dictate been passed to prevent us happy-go-lucky normal folks going about our lives as we see fit. Almost inevitably this is met with cries of “it’s ‘ealf ‘n’ safety gorn mad!” from the tabloids and the mythical ‘man in the street’. Maybe you have even been guilty of this utterance yourself.
A recent occasion that stuck in my mind was when some poor, hapless rail employee refused to help a lady with her pram across a footbridge due to health and safety. Now the problem has come closer to home: Gloucester’s curious but historic tradition of cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth is under threat.
The health and safety concerns over the cheese rolling are not, as you may expect, based upon the safety of competitors, who recklessly throw themselves down a steep grass bank in pursuit of a cheese. No, the concerns are over the safety of the increasing and unmanageable number of spectators.
All outrageous, I’m sure you’ll agree. The nanny state should leave us alone: if we want to go around doing dangerous and silly things they should leave us to get on with it shouldn’t they? Well yes, but…
Let’s just think for a moment shall we. How many of those who are first with the ‘ealf ‘n’ safety gorn mad’ cry are also the first, should they trip on an un-even paving slab, slip on a wet floor or, indeed, get hit in the head with a stray lump of Double Gloucester cheese, to reach for the phone to call Injury Lawyers for You or some other cynical ambulance chasing law firm in search of a pay-out?
As a nation we seem to have become so litigious that nobody dares do anything lest they are sued for their trouble. That is why the rail guard couldn’t carry the pram over the bridge: can you imagine what would have happened if he had dropped it?
So there you have it; I fear it is not Health and Safety that’s gone mad at all, it’s us.