I was disappointed that the social housing company in Salford referred to ‘health and safety concerns’ as the reason for asking residents at Rialto Gardens to remove decorative flower pots lining a communal footpath next to their homes (Manchester Evening News, 28 August 2014).
Whatever the real reason for Salix Homes needing to do this, I assure you there is nothing in health and safety legislation that requires it. In fact, our Myth Busters Challenge Panel has considered several similar cases where we have made it clear that this is not a health and safety issue.
Here at the Health and Safety Executive, we encourage people to challenge when they are told ‘health and safety’ stands in the way of something. Invariably it is used as a ‘catch-all’ to hide something, or because it is easier than explaining the real reason.
This must stop, because it detracts from the success of a 40-year-old piece of legislation – the Health and Safety at Work Act – that has drastically reduced the number of people killed or injured as a result of work activity. Health and safety saves lives; it doesn’t stop you living one.
Chair of the Health and Safety Executive