November 17, 2006

Hurrah, an attack on the HSE

Thanks to Tim Worstall for pointing to Simon Jenkins' attack on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

He picks up the case of the HSE pursuing the National Trust because of a tragic accident in a high wind when a tree fell on another tree, and that tree killed a boy. No point in paraphrasing his account of what happened, but he's interesting about the HSE's untouchability.

Comments on his piece are also worth reading. Jenkins writes of the HSE that "It constantly points out that 212 people die each year in industrial accidents (against 2,300 outside its remit on the roads)". What is the HSE's budget? "SteppenHerring" makes the point that
NICE already uses the criterion: one extra year of life is worth £30K. It should be fairly simple to apply this to publically funded H&S activities.

The matter of negligent employers is, I think, a separate issue. Millions of pages of regulations aren't going to stop them. A proper corporate manslaughter law might.
Jenkins suggests that -
The HSE is like the Child Support Agency, the Criminal Records Bureau and the Rural Payments Agency, a state body whose introverted culture has polluted its own reason.
No surprise there - the HSE is likely to attract people who consider its role to be particularly important.

Where is the accountability of these bodies?
This body operates beyond the realm of government and can sue on its own behalf. Its accountability is to a minister, Lord Hunt, who is not even in the House of Commons.
And where is the opposition to this creeping - and doubtless expensive - regulationism?

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