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The Daily Express article "Organ grinder is a 'safety hazard'"

Geoffrey Podger, HSE Chief Executive, responds

The Editor
Daily Express
Number 10
Lower Thames Street
London
EC3R6EN

Sir,

I was disappointed to read that 'health and safety' is once again being incorrectly blamed for jeopardising a community event ("Organ grinder is a 'safety hazard'", Daily Express, 9 August).

Derbyshire organ grinder Paddy Cooke has not been declared a safety threat, nor has he been banned from performing. As Amber Valley Council has made clear in a publicly available statement, the organiser of the street entertainment programme, Ripley Town Council, was asked to provide a risk assessment for the entire event, not for individual performers or participants.

This is exactly the issue that HSE is currently targeting in its regular 'Myth of the Month' feature which debunks many of the spurious 'elf and safety' stories around. A 'Punch and Judy' man rightly challenged a demand to submit a written risk assessment. HSE would support this and our advice is clear: if there is no significant risk, nothing needs to be written down. A man with a toy monkey is far removed from the real hazards that cost the lives of 228 workers last year.

Yours faithfully

Geoffrey Podger
Chief Executive
Health and Safety Executive
Redgrave Court
Merton Road
Bootle
Merseyside L20 7HS

Updated 2012-09-11