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HSE responds to Forestry Journal Lumbering Jack cartoon - 'Nazi' safety inspectors

Dear Editor

Your insulting and offensive portrayal of a health and safety inspector as a Nazi (Lumbering Jack, Forestry Journal, November) not only grossly trivialises the suffering of the millions in the Second World War, it also fundamentally distorts the work that regulators do with businesses on safety.

The truth is that HSE - like its fellow regulators in local authorities - provides a huge amount of help and support to employers to meet their legal obligation to protect their employees and members of the public.

The whole basis of health and safety law is that firms who create a risk in their operations must manage that risk.

When we take enforcement action - either through issuing improvement and prohibition notices, or in the most serious breaches of the law by bringing court proceedings, it is because an employer has failed in that legal duty: People have been put unnecessarily at risk.

Few people would contest the point that there are serious risks in the wood processing industry. Last year nearly 200 people suffered major injuries such as broken bones or amputations. Some 500 people were injured so badly they were forced to take at least three days off work.

You get a thick skin for jokes when you work in health and safety. But you have overstepped the mark: neither the holocaust nor the wood processing industry's safety record are a laughing matter.

Yours sincerely

David Ashton
Director of Field Operations
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2012-04-04