Tory leader David Cameron has hit out at the UK’s “over the top” health and safety culture in a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank, saying a noble intention “has mutated into a stultifying blanket of bureaucracy, suspicion and fear that has saturated our country, covering the actions of millions of individuals as they go about their daily lives.”
He said that the cause of this culture was fear of litigation and a perception that culpability lay behind every accident.
“I think we’d all concede that something has gone seriously wrong with the spirit of health and safety in the past decade,” he said.
“When children are made to wear goggles by their head teacher to play conkers.
“When trainee hairdressers are not allowed scissors in the classroom.
“When office workers are banned from moving a chair without expert supervision. When staff at a railway station don’t help a young mum carry her baby son’s buggy because they are not insured.
Labour politicians responded by calling Cameron’s account a “caricature” of health and safety regulation.
Work and pensions minister Lord McKenzie said, “David Cameron’s caricature of health and safety is based on myth and exaggeration, and is just a rehash of what previous Tory leaders have said.
“It flies in the face of the important work the Health and Safety Executive does to tackle precisely those myths.
“The UK’s health and safety framework absolutely does not prevent children from playing conkers, policemen from doing their jobs and people from living normal lives.”
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