Arinite Blog


Comedy of Errors

Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: Sep 28, 2012 | Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Read more: Health & Safety

Ben Elton has just written a new sitcom for the BBC called “Slings and Arrows”. It is based on a Local Government Health and Safety Department. New BBC Sitcom

With the atttention that health and safety has received this year, this will probably be the icing on the cake. Or will it be the another nail in the coffin for the health and safety brand?

Judith Hackitt’s HSE Blog stated “as inventive a writer Ben Elton undoubtedly is, he’ll struggle to dream up scenarios more laughable than those tackled by the HSE’s own Myth Busters Challenge Panel[1].” They have answered 50 complaints since April 2012. Whilst, there is no shortage of comedy material in health and safety, there is a serious undertone to the errors that result in people being harmed at work, that must not be overlooked.

One of the best comedy sketches I have read was by Jeremy Clarkson in the 1990s when he wrote a hilarious newspaper article about nuclear submarine health and safety. This included missiles that could not be fired as they might damage the environment, and hatches that could not be closed as the boat flooded because sailors may hurt their backs. I was in the Royal Navy at the time and I knew that health and safety rules saved lives, but I would like to think that all of us realise that such comedy is far from reality.

There is no harm in having a laugh at the expense of health and safety, because in reality the good and unsung work of pragmatic and professional health and safety professionals continues to improve our working lives.

The problem is that the Government seems to think that the comedic side of health and safety is the reality as we head down a potentially dangerous path of regulation cutting. Ironically, if they could stand back and see themselves, the Government is the central character in the unfolding comedy of errors. We could end up in a situation where regulations and rules that have saved lives are cut.

The Government proposals have also resulted in a dichotomy of opinion from the Institute of Directors welcoming deregulation and some Trade Unions opposing the changes. BBC H&S Regulation Cuts.

We wait to see how the sketch plays out. Hopefully the Government will see sense and the comedy of errors will not become a reality.

“Slings and Arrows” may turn out to be a good comedy, but if you watch it and enjoy it, remember the serious reasons why we have health and safety rules.

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If you want to know more about the business benefits to complying with health and safety good practice in the workplace, please call me on: mobile 0780 361 2948, office 0207 947 9581, or drop me a line at

Bryan Richards 28th September 2012

Arinite Ltd, Warnford Court, 29 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AT


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