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Letters to the Telegraph - "Health and safety rules take the fun out of life"

Geoffrey Podger, Chief Executive, Health and Safety Executive responds

The Editor
The Daily Telegraph
1 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
LONDON E14 5 DT

25 October 2006

Sir

Colin Bower (Letters, October 24) is of course right to conclude that life cannot be risk free. Indeed, health and safety law recognises this fact and simply requires employers (and others) to ensure that risks from work activities are kept as low as reasonably practicable, i.e. that such risks as do arise are commensurate with the benefits to society of the work in question.

I sympathise with Mr Bower that some people do seem to have as their sole raison d'ĂȘtre preventing various activities, whether commercial or recreational. Where I must disagree with him is his assertion - for which he offers no evidence save his interpretation of press stories - that such people either work for, or are supported in their actions by, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Nothing that HSE does prevents, or unreasonably inhibits, people from erecting hanging baskets, putting up Christmas lighting or indeed a whole range of similar low-risk activities.

Geoffrey Podger
Chief Executive
Health and Safety Executive
Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge
London SE1 9HS

Updated 2010-05-10