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Has Health and Safety Taken a Step Too Far?
Posted by David Cant on November 24, 2011

A Case of the Wrong Type of Rescue Equipment

Alison Hume’s Life Could Have Been Saved. Has Health and Safety Taken a Step Too Far?

In the news last week there was the story about the tragic and preventable death of Alison Hume who dies in July 2008. The 44 year old mother fell down and old mineshaft on Galston while walking home and was found by her daughter who called for help. Ms Hume suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs and sternum. However it has been found that Ms Hume would have most likely survived these injuries had there not been a delay in bringing her up to the surface.

Health and Safety Regulations Cost a Woman Her Life

The senior officer in charge of the rescue operation would not use the equipment needed to winch out Ms Hume in time to help treat her. The fire fighters present were willing to go down and help her but due to the senior officer following the health and safety guidelines Ms Hume remained down in the mineshaft for six more hours. When they finally rescued her she died from a heart attack which was brought on by hypothermia.

The equipment needed to rescue the 44 year old mother was only to be used to help the rescuers and the regulations surrounding its use stated that it should not be used for the public. The officer would not move from these regulations and the inquiry has now discovered that the death could have been avoided of it wasn’t for the delay due to the health and safety regulations.

Lack of Training Also a Contributing Factor?

The inquiry also showed that the Strathclyde Police and Fire and Rescue workers did not have adequate knowledge of the resources that they had available to them in order to aid the rescue of Ms Holmes. They were not familiar with the potential uses of the equipment and did not understand how it could have been used. There was also a lack of training among the emergency services and the fire crews did not have an advanced knowledge of first aid.

Health and Safety Is Necessary

There has been a public outcry and now demands are being made that there should be a get out clause in some of the laws and regulations, such as those which stopped the senior officer from using certain equipment to save Ms Hume.

Health and safety consultants would like to remind people that regulations are there to protect lives, and without the regulations more people each year would die due to inadequate safety measures in the workplace, especially in industries such as agriculture and construction where in the past adults and children have lost their loves from being exposed to asbestos, mercury and having to operate extremely dangerous equipment.

Knowledge and Education

The correct training is always an important part of running any business. Health and safety services are able to provide in depth training courses to help increase knowledge and prevent terrible accidents leading to tragic losses of lives.  To discuss the type of training which could benefit you or your employees contact the health and safety consultants at Veritas. Call 0800 1488 677 for further


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. Fluent in practical advice. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the Director of life at Veritas Consulting.

You can find him on – Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: CDM Coordinators, CDM Regulations, competent person, Competent Person Service, Construction, Health and Safety at Work, Health and Safety Law, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Health and Safety

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