Today’s newspaper contains a story that Chris Grayling, the Employment Minister, is berating the health and safety culture that some bosses use to hide unpopular decisions behind. He is of course right to challenge this cynical use of H&S legislation, but this story smacks more of ministerial headline grabbing, than any serious attempt to address the issue.
Attacking health and safety in this wholesale fashion and demanding that everybody apply common sense when making decisions, is the lazy approach and ignores completely the reason why H&S has become both a blight and a joke to many – the no win, no fee lawyer.
Chris Grayling is calling for common sense from bosses, but without acknowledging that common sense immediately goes out of the window as soon as the lawyers become involved. How many companies pay up immediately they get that solicitor’s letter, instead of going to court and fighting their case, because it is nearly always the cheapest option.
The whole no win no fee system is obviously a lucrative business for the numerous companies now chasing every passing ambulance, as witnessed by the frequent adverts on television. If there was no H&S legislation, then there would be no law for these lawyers to sue under. However, lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s the no win no fee lawyers that need culling, not the H&S legislation that undoubtedly saves lives everyday of the week.
Unless these constantly circling sharks are dealt with, Mr Grayling is whistling in the wind and those who are vulnerable to being sued by a careless employee, or a customer or member of the public out to make a fast buck, will continue to play it safe – wouldn’t you?