Judith Hackitt’s ‘Risk Assessment’ – Up for the ride

It was encouraging to see London Mayor Boris Johnson setting an example and enjoying himself on play equipment on a recent visit to an adventure playground in Shadwell, London.

The Mayor appeared to be having a high old time among the ropes and pulleys at a project that gives young people a place to play and meet friends while helping local people to get involved in community activities.

Mr Johnson was quoted in the press saying Britain needs more adventure playgrounds such as the one he was visiting that day. He added that he’d like to see one in every area.

I would too! HSE recently drafted a joint high level statement with Play Safety Forum underlining the importance of allowing children to learn important lessons about life from play.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve long been an advocate of children being allowed to face adventure head on, without being encumbered by over-zealous rules or assessments designed to eliminate all risk.

I personally believe in supporting a child’s natural instinct and curiosity by enabling them to explore their character through play, and not be confined to their homes, sitting in front of computer games or TV.

As the Mayor pointed out, there are some who would use health and safety as an excuse to deny young people using these facilities. We all need to continue to tackle this blatant misuse of health and safety to stop learning, adventure and …fun!

Those who are too risk averse to let kids enjoy this sort of facility, or trot out “health and safety” to stand in the way of similar projects going ahead are doing children a great disservice.

Why do they do it? Well, it could be fear of being sued, misleading newspaper headlines, the demands of insurance companies, the list goes on.

It is the job of all of all health and safety practitioners to keep pulling the debate back to the facts, a debate which can admittedly be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. But just like the Mayor, I’m up for the ride – are you?

Article source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/news/judith-risk-assessment/up-for-the-ride230114.htm