Before we vilify Francis Maude for truly mind-bogglingly staggering ineptitude, we should consider his pronouncement within the context of the government’s cavalier approach to health & safety legislation in the UK.
Firstly we had Lord Young of Gaffem’s report ‘Common Sense Common Safety’, wherein the noble peer delivered what was expected of him and proferred the idea that we could dispense with much of the UK’s current health & safety regulations.
David Cameron fell on the report like a hungry wolf spying the fatted calf and immediately announced a raft of cut backs and claw backs as he began the process of dismantling 178 years of hard fought progress in worker and public safety in this country.
So far, so bad.
The primary justification for this rush to deregulate is the much-vaunted yet fatally flawed theory that less onerous health & safety regulation means more profit for business.
Then we had Professor Ragnar Lofstedt’s report ‘Reclaiming Health & Safety For All’. Professor Lofstedt has clearly stated that he is not in favour of ‘radical’ reform, apparently contrary to prime minister David Cameron’s attack on the ‘monster’ of health and safety.
The PM referenced Lofstedt’s report from December as he blamed the ‘albatross’ of health and safety legislation for holding back British businesses but the King’s College academic, insisted he had never called for significant changes to legal policy and did not believe in a compensation culture.
When asked if he was worried his report could be hijacked for political purposes, he said: ‘I am concerned about it. I am concerned my review could be misused.’
So bad, so far…
‘The scores on the doors’ : Reports delivered – 2. ‘Common Sense’ health & safety strategy in the UK – 0.
The second assumption underpinning the current madness is the notion that most day to day activities and even most workplaces are intrinsically safe and thus we only require a light touch on the regulation tiller to ensure our safety as we go about our daily lives…
and this is where Francis Maude comes in.
MINISTER CREATES HAVOC AT HOME WITH LETHAL ADVICE ON FUEL STORAGE AS WOMAN SUFFERS 40% BURNS IN JERRY CAN FIRE.
Fire officers have warned the public not to store petrol in their home after a woman suffered 40 per cent burns in a fire started by petrol she was transferring between containers, following advice from government minister Francis Maude that motorists should consider storing fuel in anticipation of a tanker drivers’ strike.
The victim, 46-year-old Diane Hill, was badly injured after her clothes caught fire while decanting the fuel from one container into another at her home on York. A fire service spokesman said:
‘She was using her cooker at the same time as pouring petrol from one container to another using a jug after her daughter had asked for some petrol.’
The mother-of-two, from the Acomb area of York, was taken to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, Yorks while two firefighters wearing breathing equipment dealt with the aftermath.
At the time of writing no apology has been received from Mr Maude…but the real bad news is that he probably doesn’t know what he and his government should be apologising for.