Posted on: September 6, 2009 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

The British media is giving occupational SHEQ legislation a bad press. A spate of news reports blame over-regulation for obstructing emergency services and even allowing fatalities.

The public agenda focus is shifting against legalism and poor service deliver this European fall. One typical news report, by Fiona McIntosh, was published on 6 September: mother of three Melissa Proctor-Blain died from a heart attack in a Derby pub while a paramedic awaited ‘proper authorisation’ to enter the premises and then awaited ‘proper authorisation’ to perform CPR on her own.

Examples of service hamstrung by red tape and fear of prosecution are piling up. A grandfather was left dying while a paramedic performed a 16-minute safety check on the patient’s flat.

Two police support officers refused to enter the water after a 10-year-old boy drowned because they didn’t have the ‘correct’ training. British SHEQ rules, like legislated corporate governance codes, are no longer seen as deterrents of white collar crime, but as public enemies, comments editor SHEQafrica.

The European backlash against over-regulation and over-prosecution has been long in coming. In South Africa, inefficient inspection and prosecution combine to make compliance a matter of good reputation and good citizenship. Local corporate governance codes remain voluntary.

Prof Mervyn King commented on the status of the King 3 Report: “you can not legislate for honesty and good intentions, as Britain had attempted to do.” He argues that corporate governance should remain the realm of peer pressure, market forces, and social reputation.

The Mirror journalist writes of Britain: “Bureaucracy is killing this country. It is suffocating thousands of emergency services, police and health workers who do a great job and providing a hideous excuse for jobsworths who don’t.”

“Health and safety laws are now so powerful they do more to hurt us than protect us… every health, police and welfare service in the country has become infected by bureaucratic lunacy.”


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