The HSE fight back and respond to an article in The Morpeth Herald – ‘Health and Safety Madness Risks Lives’.
The original “news” story:
‘RIDICULOUS’ health-and-safety rules could be leaving children’s lives at risk, a councillor has warned.
The Herald revealed in June that hundreds of children at Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools were being left to cross the busy Mitford Road without an attendant. Parents and teachers were told in December that a lollipop man was due to start soon, but he never showed up for duty and there continues to be no school crossing patrol in place.
Now Morpeth Town Council has learnt that teachers and parents are unable to help show youngsters safely across the road without having appropriate training or insurance. Coun Alison Byard told the Planning and Transport Committee last week: “I went to the schools to have a look to see what was happening at home-time.
“They did have a teacher on duty, but what I didn’t realise is that the teacher is 10ft back from the road and out of sight of the cars. They can’t even let the cars see them. All they can do is ensure the kids don’t run towards the road.”
The committee suggested approaching local Police Community Support Officers to fill the gap until a crossing attendant is appointed. But it dismissed calls from Coun David Clark for the community to take on the task, saying any volunteer could be at risk of legal action if an accident occurred.
Coun Clark said: “I find it hard to believe that the head and teachers can’t form a rota. These health-and-safety rules are madness. It just seems crazy.” After the meeting, he said: “It seems as though we are putting ridiculous health-and-safety rules and fear of litigation before the safety of our children. The world has gone mad.
“I think parents should don high-vis vests and take matters into their own hands as Northumberland County Council seems unable to resolve this.”
The HSE’s response was as follows:
Your report (Morpeth Herald online, 23 January, “Health and Safety madness risks lives”) suggests ‘health and safety’ is the reason for teachers not helping children to cross a road.
Whatever the reasons for teachers believing they are not allowed to see youngsters safely across the road, we at the Health and Safety Executive would like to be clear that it is not because there is anything in health and safety legislation that prohibits it.
We see hundreds of stories each year in which health and safety is blamed incorrectly for an unnecessary or overzealous restriction. So much so that we’ve set up a panel of experts to help people challenge daft decisionshttp://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/myth-busting.htm
‘Health and safety gone mad’ is something we hear too much about, but we should keep our minds on what health and safety legislation is really there to do – ensuring everyone can return home to their families, safe and well, from their day’s work.
John Rowe, Head of Operations Yorkshire & North East