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Health and Safety

Comment 1st July 2010

Local Authorities, businesses, schools and other service providers are stifled by a requirement to overly analyse risks to the public and thier workforce and put in place excessive measures to reduce such risk to almost zero. The result of this is a significanty curtailed service provision and increase in costs.

To my mind, these risk analyses and "health and safety" provisions are driven by a fear of being sued in the event of an accident. Even frivilous lawsuits cost money to defend, but with the availablity of legal aid the recent explosion in "no win no fee" solicitors, a victim of an accident has nothing to lose in pursuing a claim for compensation.

It is not the health and safety laws that has resulted in the well known maxim "health and safety gone mad", but rather the ease of bringing a claim without fear of having to foot the bill of doing so.

My idea is this: abolish "no win no fee"; make anyone who wants to bring an action in court foot the bill. This would not discourage genuine claimants who, if successful, would have its costs paid for my the losing party in any event, but will discourage frivilous claimants. In addition, tighten up the rules relating to legal aid. Make legal aid dependent upon an intial review of the case and only those which had say 80% chance of success are funded.

Why does this matter?

It is a sad day for a society in which children are not allowed to take part in extra curricular activities or go on school trips because its too risky. There seems to be a public mindset that somebody is to blame for all accidents and that responsibility can be passed to others.

The mollycoddling health and safety actions of service providers pander to that passing of responsibility which seems to pervade and affect all aspects of society.

By making it harder to blame someone else (by making it harder to commence frivilous actions) should make people think twice about pinning the blame on others and may be take responsibilty for thier actions.

Risk is part of being human; people will be injured occassionally, people will die occassionally, that's life, it is fundementally unhealthy to act otherwise.

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