Arinite Blog


A risk too far?

Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: Dec 4, 2013 | Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Read more: Health & Safety

 Infinite Monkey CageThe Infinite Monkey Cage is a witty and irreverent look at the world through scientists eyes hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince on BBC Radio 4. On 19th November the programme had an interesting look at Risk.

One of the guests was David Spiegalhalter OBE who is Professor of the public understanding of risk in the Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

He said that health and safety rules and regulations had made a big difference to risk. Fifty years ago 1,000 children died each year in the UK compared to 50 a year today. At work, since the Health and Safety at Work Act was introduced in 1974 he said that there had been an 80% reduction in annual workplace fatalities in the UK.

Interestingly, he went on to say that a seven year old today is the safest he or she has ever been. However, after the age of seven our risk of dying increases by 9% each year and he called this the `force of mortality’. This equates to our risk of dying doubling every seven years. However, these are averages and we can influence the statistic by our own lifestyles and employers can influence this through managing workplace risk.

130 mph Spectacular Crash on Lake Coniston

carbon fibre boatKeith Whittle, from Hayling Island in Hampshire, was taking part in the Power Boat Records Week when his craft flipped (BBC News)

Mr Whittle escaped with minor injuries when the boat turned over at 130 mph (210 kph) on Coniston Water. It was an almost identical accident on the same stretch of water in 1967 when Donald Campbell was killed travelling at over 300mph.

Keith was aiming to improve his own Formula Two world record when the carbon fibre boat “just started to lift. All you can do is brace yourself for impact and get out as soon as you can after the accident”

Keith Wittle is 57 years old and that equates a big `force of mortality’ according to Professor Spiegalhalter, but he took the risk and he survived. “In a way it is lucky it went into the water stern first, going in forwards could have been a different story,” he said. That is certainly true, because when Donald Campbell hit the water it was bow first, killing him instantly.

I have covered taking risk and foreseeing risk in my previous blogs Skyfall Risk Assessment and Foreseeing Risk.

Health and Safety Risks at Work

So is it time to be complacent about health and safety risks at work? Of course not. You can only cash in on the benefits of reduced risk in workplaces if you follow the Health and Safety rules and principles that have reduced risk over the last 30 years.

Do you know what the rules are? Do you know how to minimise risk in your workplace?

Why not try our Free Health and Safety Assesment to see how your organisation fares.

Contact us

If you need to call upon our expertise in Risk and Health and Safety Consulting, or just for impartial and informal Health and Safety advice, please call me on: mobile 0780 361 2948, office 0207 947 9581, or drop me a line at

Bryan Richards 4th December 2013

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

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