Well done to those who have challenged the status quo but has the letter sent to the PM also jumped to quickly to a perceived answer? For a start the spinkler issue is not H&S law but would be part of a Building Regs requirement or an advisory note to industry that would develop into the "reasonably practicable" statutory duty.
Why do I wonder what the right way forward is?
1. Huge structures are built successfully all the time. Companies compete to win the opportunity to produce such assets. They are not required to go through checklists etc in technical and managerial standards except in H&S. Interestingly it is the technical and managerial performance that will effectively decide which projects succeed and which fair rather less well. I cite a well known example - the 2012 Olympics where no one died in the production of the venues and infrastructure or event management. A lot of work was done by many but in the event itself the diverse cultures, experience, expectations, organisations etc involved in coming together meant that business as usual was not a possibility. Success was still achieved.
2. I would also like to point out that the fatality rate on small projects is far lower than on large projects. This is often the case where those involved have no knowledge of, interest in or belief in the relevance of regulations. SOmething else is happening here.
Is the time right to step right back and ask what it is we want to achieve as a society and then look at how this may best be achieved?
If we want to reduce the number of accidental deaths accross society we could simply stop all private driving. The cost here is too high for us to stomach and so we have an extreme situation where we accept a very high death toll in exchange for convenience.
So is what we want to achieve a reduction in some deaths in some places? Why? Who has agreed at societal level this is our goal or are we just nudged into a belief this is what we want? If it is what we want should we be looking at more advanced theory to apply to more advanced working and living practices and technology?
H&S penalties are ferocious these days. Are they managed as we wish? Do we want to criminalise indiividuals and organisation because they have not filled in a tick list or not gained a particular spurious qualification or created a document no-one else will read?
If we do want all these things, fine, let's be clear about it. I think we do not. I think we want reeduced harm, less pain and suffering, less stress, less anxiety. More collaboration, more teamwork, healthier happier lives.
I am not sure that simply adding more regulations will achieve that. In fact I would say that a simpler regulatory framework would bemuch better. This means a smaller number of rules both absolute and flexible. I absolutely agree that simply dealing with this by numbers is ridiculous but let's be careful and make sure we go to the heart of the problem, identify it and look at what would/could improve matters. Let's try a clean sheet and see what we develop as a more mature and engaged community of practice.