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Managing Risks Is An Essential Part Of Childhood

Learning to manage risks an essential part of growing up, says HSC

Judith Hackitt, Chair of UK's Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has sent out a clear message to those who hide behind so called health and safety rules to stop children from enjoying a normal childhood.

The new HSC Chair who is due to speak at a Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) "Risk and Childhood" conference said, "Life is not risk free, we know that. Our children encounter risks every day and learning to manage risks is an essential part of growing up. Through educational activities and play we want children to enjoy themselves whilst staying safe."

"All too often 'health and safety' is blamed for imposing unjustifiable bureaucracy on teachers. I do not want to see bureaucratic actions taken in the name of health and safety.

As the regulator, the HSC wants to see risks managed sensibly and responsibly, not eliminated. Most education authorities are extremely sensible on issues like this, but it is important every authority continues to adopt a sensible approach."

Sensible risk management IS NOT about:

* Creating a totally risk free society;

* Generating useless paperwork mountains;

* Scaring people by exaggerating or publicising trivial risks;

* Stopping important recreational and learning activities for individuals where the risks are managed; and

* Reducing protection of people from risks that cause real harm and suffering.

Sensible risk management IS about

* Ensuring that workers and the public are properly protected;

* Providing overall benefit to society by balancing benefits and risks, with a focus on reducing real risks - both those which arise more often and those with serious consequences;

* Enabling innovation and learning, not stifling them;

* Ensuring that those who create risks manage them responsibly and understand that failure to manage real risks responsibly is likely to lead to robust action; and

* Enabling individuals to understand that as well as the right to protection, they also have to exercise responsibility

These principles on sensible risk management build on HSE's initiatives to cut red tape and work with organisations representing employers, workers, insurers, lawyers, volunteers, health and safety professionals to make a real difference to people's lives.

These principles reiterate the message that health and safety is not about long forms, back-covering, or stifling initiative. It's about keeping people safe - not stopping their lives.


1. Judith Hackitt will be speaking at the RSA "Risk and Childhood" conference on Wednesday 31st October 2007 at 8 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6EZ.

2. Five Steps to Risk Assessment and example risk assessments can be found on the risk management web pages on the HSE website. The pages are written in everyday language for managers, not health and safety experts and include links to more information and a section for frequently asked questions.

3. The Health and Safety Commission is responsible for health and safety regulation in Great Britain. The Health and Safety Executive and local government are the enforcing authorities who work in support of the Commission.

4. The HSC has overall responsibility for occupational health and safety regulations in Great Britain. The Commission consists of 10 people nominated by bodies with an interest in workplace health and safety. They are sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP minister for occupational health and safety is Lord McKenzie of Luton.


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