Seemingly Irrational

I relegated my manifesto from the blog header to a subsidiary page just last weekend; it includes that phrase “seemingly irrational”, which this letter also uses ….

Your article (How did no-win, no-fee change things?, 7 May) bears out the fact that the “rise” of no-win, no-fee is more of a perception than a reality. But it’s a powerful perception, and one that is often the root cause of seemingly irrational decisions to require schoolchildren to wear goggles to play conkers, but not to wear them in the swimming pool when the chlorinated water irritates their eyes! My profession, health and safety, then gets saddled with the blame. But the reality is that it’s not a result of advice given by health and safety professionals – rather officials seeking an easy way out of a difficult decision or racked with unrealistic fears that they might be sued should something go wrong. Modern health and safety practice is about striking a sensible balance. Unfortunately, it’s a powerful and believable excuse for some in positions of authority. Health and safety professionals are not interested in preventing people from doing activities that have gone ahead without serious harm for generations. We want people to have good fun – in a safe and healthy way.
Ray Hurst, IOSH President, Wigston, Leicestershire.

Healthy balance being destroyed by “enforced” choices … enforced by the decision-making psychology, not by any reality or necessity to do so.  Perception is the root cause.

3 thoughts on “Seemingly Irrational”

  1. The health and safety industry is plagued by “seemingly irrational decisions”. The Tories say that commen sense, rather than legislation, is the antidote to such irrationality. But in an increasingly litigious society like ours, how do you prescribe common sense?

  2. That is the question … for common sense, read wisdom, and at least part of the answer is not to be “prescriptive” in the law. ie the legislation needs to be more subtle than rules on do’s and dont’s. The Tory line here is right in principle. In general HSE professionals tend to be pretty sensible, it’s managers applying the rules that are left without room to manoeuvre by blame-based expectations.

  3. In theory I would always advocate less prescriptive legislation in health and safety, and other areas of life. However in practice Lawyers, Barristers (the great dialecticians) would have field day.

    SHE professionals need to be wise, and they should know how to give “reasonably practicable ” advice, however without more prescription, their advice is open to attack from highly paid teams of legle eagles. Added to this, Our adversarial law system often values blame over truth, quite often, SHE professionals are more aware of compliance issues, than they are of the steps needed to mitigate risk.

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