Has health and safety gone mad? - Hasmate
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Has health and safety gone mad?

Has health and safety gone mad?

Has red tape bureaucracy been taken to the extreme?

Spotted – at a DOC hut recently.  Three signs surrounding the one and only door to the hut.

  • “In case of fire, go outside and call out FIRE, FIRE, FIRE to the others in the hut”… should we also notify the local deer, possums and insects or if it’s at night, to the moreporks and other sleeping bird life?
  • An emergency exit sign.  Why??  It was the only door in the hut!
  • “In case of fire or an emergency, contact emergency services, dial 111”. That’s ok if you have a cellphone but what about when there is no phone coverage?

Add to this the bright orange plastic markers on the 2.5 metre wide track that had a 300 mm deep rut from hikers over the years and I start to wonder about the use of common sense.

(Also, a big thumbs up to DOC for the upgrading of their network of huts – looking good!)

For the public

Health and safety is being now used as an excuse to stop public meetings, school fundraising, kids climbing trees, Santa Parades, possum hunts and a host of other normal social activities.  Is health and safety in New Zealand now being used as the catch-all by some of the overzealous PC brigadiers in positions of authority to halt many of the normal social activities that has made New Zealand what it is?  If so, why???

I have a sneaking suspicion that there is limited understanding of what the health and safety legislation is really intended to do and the fear factor of the perceived fines and jail time. I also believe the likelihood and consequence of the fines and jail time would be less likely if there was better education and understanding of the intention of the 2015 legislation.

For business

Another case of health and safety gone mad was when a contractor was recently engaged by a local council to install a cattle stop… at a locked gate to a river bed… at the end of the one way dead-end country road… with limited access by the general public.

The company had installed on one side of the gateway the usual large H&S sign that set out the PPE and two identified hazards – the excavator and the cattle stop that was being repaired.

As you approached the gate, there was another sign that read, “Site Entry”.  On the other side of the fence, and to add insult to common sense, was another sign that read “Site Exit”.

Why have these signs, when the gate was the only entry and exit point to and from the river bed?

Lack of understanding?

I believe that those who impose these types of questionable signage or restrictions have a lack of understanding of the true intention of the old and current legislation. The 1992 Health and Safety in Employment Act and the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act were both designed for the employment and work related situations – in and at work.

Add to this the limited understanding and application of the term, “so far as is reasonably practicable”, – then perhaps this is the reason why we are being inundated with so many interesting decisions and actions that are making many question the use of health and safety in the public and social arena.

If you are a health and safety professional, make a point of challenging some of the questionable statements and actions by a few, that are impinging on our social fabric and common sense and that is challenging our profession, when we are all trying to make a difference.

Agree or disagree – please contact Hasmate today.