Have you ever heard the expression, ‘it’s health and safety gone mad’? Though there are some health and safety laws that we all agree with and understand the importance of, many people do feel that the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) sometimes go too far.
One of the areas which commonly gets criticised is how the HSE try and protect children in public places.
In a recent article on her HSE blog, Judith Hackitt expressed her rather refreshing perspective. As the Chair of the HSE, Judith Hackitt plays a very important role in determining health and safety legislation. In this blog article she points out that ‘at the HSE, we are focused on health and safety in the workplace, but it is clear that attitudes to risk are formed long before young people enter the world of work.’ She then argues that children should be given more freedom and allowed to play outside more.
For many people these statements will come as a bit of a shock. It’s a commonly held belief that the HSE want to wrap children up in cotton wool. This article, however, suggests that, ‘play – and particularly play outdoors – teaches young people how to deal with risk’. It then goes on to explain that giving children this freedom when they are younger helps them develop a sense of risk assessment, a skill which is crucial if they are to stay safe in the workplace later in life.
Judith Hackitt’s comments make it very clear that, although it is their role to help ensure employees safety in the workplace, they do understand the importance of judgement and experience as well as legislation. Hopefully this will help more people understand the importance of what the HSE do and be more sympathetic towards their methods.