The danger of safety

Every year the Occupational Health, Safety and Environment Unit at Cardiff University has to cope with 300 pages of new legislation. Except, it is not just they who have to cope with the legislation, it is every employer and employee. You will recall the maxim that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

How does an organisation not large enough to employ a full time unit (Cardiff's has seven people named on its webpage, there may be others) for this sort of thing cope with the burden of these laws? And does anyone really imagine that these laws make us safer?

Each regulation taken individually may be sensible - though I suspect that some are not. But collectively they remove judgement from individuals. The government second guesses all safety decisions with general principles, which cannot possibly take account of individual circumstances.

You were born because your ancestors were good at making judgements about safety. That's what evolution means - being descended from a long line of winners. If regulation takes these judgements away from us, it means we will make decisions because that is what it says in the manual, not because it is sensible.

It is long past time to scrap all these regulations and replace them with a general duty of care. Let people exercise common sense.

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