Of all the phrases banded around by the tabloid newspapers – and in turn inaccurately recycled by the public – “health and safety gone mad” is among the most enduring.
It is also one of the most inaccurate, surrounded by misconceptions of meddling individuals with clipboard in hand and hard hat upon head.
As The Smiler is yet again delayed at Alton Towers, “health and safety” reasons are incorrectly being banded around once again.
Regardless of what the actual reason for the ride’s delay are, the independent body that is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) typically acts as an advisor and an auditor.
In reality, HSE inspectors are not usually present during the ride’s construction and they certainly do not sign the ride off or delay its opening.
While it does have the authority to prohibit the use of equipment or demand that specific improvements are made, these actions typically follow severe dangerous occurrences or accidents.
Occasional random visits do take place, as well as ones which follow tip-offs with regards to dangerous occurrences going on at a site.
In the theme and amusement park industry, inspectors will most likely be on site as a result of an injury that has come from a ride accident.
Inspectors would visit the scene within 24 hours and if the ride is suspected as being at fault – a prohibition notice can be served, which prevents the operation of that ride.
A investigation lasting months or even years is then begun and outcomes involving prosecutions are usually then reported in the local press.
But the HSE inspector is often unfairly made out to be villainous.
It is often the case that businesses and individual members of staff quote “health and safety” as being the reason why they cannot do something – but this is most frequently not so.
Indeed, the HSE is that committed to dispelling the false stories and misconceptions that surround them, that it sends out regular email updates busting the latest myths that have emerged in the press.