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HSE responds to Daily Mail - bowling alley story

30 November 2009

Dear Sir,

Your article 'We don't need to wait for an elf & safety risk assessment if we're in real danger' hardly presents a fair or accurate picture of that investigation, or of HSE more generally.

On the bowling alley story, suffice it to say that our investigation, conducted at the request of the local authority, established that none of the machinery being used by employees across the country met the required safety standards. Given that, as you rightly point out, there had already been one death it was well worth spending eight weeks of our time on the matter.

The approximate costs of the work is less than £20,000, not £250,000.

More generally, your article consists of half-truths and misunderstandings. Inspections are a key part of our role but equally we are an internationally recognised source of expertise, which needs to work with and through national organisations. We similarly make no apologies for our media-based preventative work.

None of this can be conducted on a shoestring, if we are to continue to save workers and their families from horrific premature death or permanent maiming. Our recent document on the application of health and safety legislation to the police was designed precisely both to recognise their dedication to duty and equally the protection which they can legitimately expect from their employees. We in HSE think that the lives of police staff matter too.

Finally, no one knows better than HSE that assessment of risk can be over zealous and we have long campaigned against this. It is absurd to suggest however, that either schools or the forces of law and order should simply act without any proper considerations of the risks they are running and how they can be mitigated. This step is crucial to all our safety.

Yours faithfully,

Geoffrey Podger
Chief Executive, Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2013-01-23