Response to Connacht Tribune Article:
“Ferry to Aran Bans Bikes – For Health and Safety Reasons”

The proactive management of the safety and health of workers or anyone who might be affected by work activity is serious business.  This task is not made any easier when one reads of various activities and events being cancelled or curtailed because of “health and safety”. As we see it, the term is bandied about as an excuse for all sorts of unpopular decisions. It can be very convenient to put a difficult decision down to some vague “health and safety” issue rather than outline the real motivation. There may well be valid reasons to make unpopular decisions, e.g. commercial pressures or fears re legal action, but more often than not they have nothing to do with “health and safety”.

The latest version of this was seen recently when a ferry company operating to the Aran Islands decided to ban passengers bringing bicycles on board. The reason given for this decision was “health and safety”. At the time of writing it seems as though no details have been provided to customers and members of the public as to what exactly these “health and safety” concerns are.

Last year 54 people lost their lives in workplace accidents and so far this year 22 people have been killed. Apart from these very tragic deaths thousands of people have been injured, many very seriously. The position of the Health and Safety Authority is clear – health and safety is not a reason to not do something. If there are valid risks associated with a workplace activity these risks should be assessed and managed so that the activity can be carried out in a safe way. Very rarely is the solution to simply not do it.

We live in an era where many people have concerns over an overly protective “nanny state” culture. We understand these concerns and we certainly have no desire to add to them. We would urge your readers the next time they’re told they can’t do something because of “health and safety” to challenge it. Common sense should prevail. On a daily basis our inspectors come up against issues that are a real and genuine risk to worker safety and health.  That is where our focus will be!

REF: HSA Website

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