And speaking of having one's prejudices confirmed, here's news - also from the Times yesterday (12th November 07) - that at last someone has woken up to the realities of Elfin Safety. What's most amazing is that it's someone from RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) …
Health and safety "extremists" are preventing children from enjoying normal play and preparing for adult life, the head of an accident prevention charity said yesterday.
Suffering from a twisted ankle or skinned knee should be an everyday part of childhood, according to Tom Mullarkey, the chief executive of RoSPA. He said that overzealous bureaucrats were undermining legitimate concerns about health and safety by applying guidance too literally and failing to use common sense.
In his annual report, Mr Mullarkey said: "People have this perception of 'elf and safety' as something that restricts your life, rather than helping you to live fully and successfully. We do not believe in extremist health and safety ideas which would keep children wrapped in cotton wool. Our argument is that a skinned knee or a twisted ankle in a challenging and exciting play environment is not just acceptable, it is a positive necessity."
He said Britain should be made "as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible", adding "We need to prepare our children for a complex, dangerous world in which healthy, robust activity is more a national need than ever before."
Accidents at home, at work or on the road kill 12,000 people a year, cost an estimated £25 billion, cause hundreds of thousands of serious injuries and lead to millions of visits to accident & emergency departments. But Mr Mullarkey said RoSPA was working to dispel fears about excessive safety measures, which gave ammunition to those seeking to ridicule health and safety, and could lead to casual indifference to accident prevention. Health and safety rules should be applied sensibly, he said, and not used as an excuse to cancel events or to save money, for example in situations such as the banning of Christmas lights.
He said: "There is no reason they cannot be used for health and safety reasons. I also heard recently that a swimming pool would be closed for 'health and safety reasons' but in fact it was because the roof was falling in, and they did not have the money to fix it. It is a concern that health and safety is used as an excuse for cost-cut-ting. We think people should climb mountains, and sail boats and have children - we are trying to help them in a practical way."
Interesting turn of phrase, that: "people should climb mountains, and sail boats and have children". I get the bit about mountains and boats, but this is the first I've heard of childbirth being a health and safety issue. Is nothing sacred?
Now I've got RoSPA's backing, I'll go out and have a baby immediately. Well, after I've climbed a mountain and sailed a boat, obviously. Though just how seriously we should be taking a man with a name like Mullarkey, I'm not sure.
The GOS says: Of course when it comes to talking sense, RoSPA don't have a very good track record, do they? See here, here and here.
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