Practical health and safety advice

In a backlash against red tape and advice on trivial risks, the Health and Safety Executive has launched a campaign focusing on practical guidance on real dangers that face people in the workplace.

The HSE has created the Principles of Sensible Risk Management, in a bid to ensure that workers and the public are properly protected rather than trying to create an entirely risk-free society.

Health and Safety Commission chair Bill Callaghan wants to concentrate more on real risks that cause real harm and suffering, and less on trivial risks and petty health and safety. “My message is that if you’re using health and safety to stop everyday activities – get a life and let others get on with theirs.”

“It’s about time common sense made a comeback,” comments Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) president Neil Budworth. “Good health and safety advice saves lives, makes good business sense, and doesn’t come with miles of red tape. Health and safety practitioners are here to help get things done, not to stand in the way of business decisions or people living their lives. We want to save life, not stop it!”

IOSH is supporting this HSE initiative, and has produced a reality checklist:

Get together – Make sure that everyone is involved from the start. Bosses and workers need to be part of risk management, otherwise it just doesn’t work.

Be aware – Everyone should understand what they are responsible for and what their rights are.

Think about the real world – You can’t get rid of all risk entirely, so don’t try. Solutions should be sensible, cost-effective, proportionate and based on good practice. And they shouldn’t bring miles of red tape.

Take a positive approach – Good health and safety advice helps achieve results, and doesn’t have to stop people from doing things. It helps us all do what we want without hurting anyone.

For more on the HSE’s campaign, visit the site at, where there is the opportunity to offer feedback on the principles.

See also: Health and safety checklist for small businesses

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