A recently published article in the Birmingham Mail maintained that “unnecessary health and safety regulations” are the main reason for a dwindling interest in science among Britain’s school children.
According to the article, it is the HSE that are to blame for tying the teachers’ hands, and disallowing children to “create explosions” and exciting scientific experiments, for fear of repercussions from the HSE.
However, Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, has disputed this claim, insisting, “Health and safety law does no stop classroom experiments”, instead laying the lack of classroom participation in science lessons at the feet of the schools.
Media and press often like to blame the Health and Safety Executive for creating rules and laws that stop people from having fun, and in this case for making education dull. However, the HSE have not, in fact, stopped classroom experiments. What the Health and Safety Executive have done is to create a framework within which these, and many other activities, can be undertaken in a safe and cautious manner.
The Health and Safety Executive in this, and many other cases like it, are simply asking for an assessment of risks to be carried out to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent accidents.
Scientific experiments, and “creating explosions”, may be fun; but there is no disputing it could also be dangerous. The rules imposed by the Health and Safety Executive are not there to stop children from having a fun, hands on, learning experience; moreover, to ensure that no-one gets hurt in the process.