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Chris Gillies responds to Paul Watson's opinion piece in his weekly 'Watson's World' column in the Hartlepool Mail

20 August 2010

Sir:

I read with disappointment Paul Watson's opinion piece this week (Watson's World, 19 August 2010).

We are as frustrated as Mr. Watson when organisations use 'health and safety' as an excuse to introduce needless bureaucracy or ban activities. In such cases, we recognise the media's role in highlighting real instances of 'elf and safety', bad practice and over-zealousness - many of which are often as a result of a misinterpretation of guidance issued by local authorities or insurance companies.

Real health and safety is about proportionate approaches to reducing genuine risk in the workplace. Contrary to Mr. Watson's view, there are genuine benefits to using the right ladder for the job for instance. Falls from height can shatter lives, and in the North East alone, last year there over 200 major injuries to workers as a result from a fall.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) campaigns actively for safer and healthier workplaces - something which many readers would regard as far from being "hopeless, stupid and extreme".

Yours sincerely,

Chris Gillies,
Principal Inspector,
Health and Safety Executive,
Arden House,
Gosforth,
Newcastle upon Tyne

Updated 2012-01-13