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Daily Telegraph, 'the Way of the World - A health and safety history of Britain' - Justin McCracken, HSE's Acting Chief Executive responds

The Editor
The Daily Telegraph
Salters Hall
3rd Floor
4 Fore Street

15 September 2005

Dear Sir

Craig Brown's report on the Way of the World - A health and safety history of Britain (15 September) actually rings true for a number of reasons.

It shows clearly that 'health and safety" has been tarred with the same brush for centuries, indeed almost since the dawn of time. Health and safety is given as the reason for a number of unpopular decisions since Bouddicca's time. And, since time has been recorded through writing and reporting of important issues, mis-reporting has played its part in generating the myth that health and safety is the ill wind blowing across our nation.

The article shows clearly that since time began, health and safety officers have had to waste their time dealing with supercilious stories in the medium of the day rather than "putting the world to rights" through encouraging the effective management of safety and risk, not eliminating it.

My own view is that Bouddicca and King Alfred had attributes that would have made excellent health and safety officers. Bouddicca understood and managed risk. Alfred formulated a code of laws that ultimately created a safer environment, and both changed the course of history.

Yours faithfully

Justin McCracken

Acting Chief Executive, Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2013-01-23