Friday, 5 October 2012

Is Health and Safety a Load of Trash?

Move over Kate and Pippa. There is a new Middleton that everyone has been talking about – and he didn’t have to go topless to make the press.

Willie Middleton was himself caught in a compromising position after he managed to get his head stuck in a bin in Aberdeen. Willie had dropped his bunnet into the bin with some rubbish and then became trapped as he stuck his head in to see where it was.

Luckily, he was successfully freed by fire fighters and has now recovered from his ordeal.

It’s amazing how many people are reported to have had accidents by getting stuck in small places – it’s easy to judge on the grounds of common sense. As said by Mark Twain, “the sad thing about common sense is that it is not that common”.

Health and safety consultants with an overzealous approach may look at this incident as one that should have been avoided if strict Health and Safety had been applied. Should Aberdeen Council have risk assessed the possible event of a member of the public putting their head in the bin? Should manufacturers of the bin have considered the average size of a person’s head when designing the dimensions of the opening? Should warnings signs stating ‘Do not put head in bin’ have been displayed to prevent Willie Middleton coming to grief as he did?

Any person who took a reasonable would think such suggestions overkill - a load of rubbish even. Health and Safety has a very important role to play but we, like poor Willie, must be careful not to lose our heads!
Victoria Hepworth (Solicitor - Birkenhead office)

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