The UAE, where health and safety takes a back seat
On first arrival in Dubai, Samuel Potter rejoiced at putting health and safety madness behind him. But now he can’t help think a little would go a long way in UAE businesses…
February 9, 2011 2:30 by Samuel Potter
There are plenty of obvious differences between the UAE and the UK. The weather is the first that comes to mind. Working in this industry, the media is another thing that stands out for me (just see today’s In Pictures for an example). The differences in culture and lifestyle can also be huge, but at the same time not so far removed that I, and thousands of other Brits, feel uncomfortable.
There are a few areas, particularly in business, where the differences between the two countries are especially big. Like health and safety, for example.
In the UK, health and safety is a colossal industry all of its own. Thanks to (until recently) ever increasing layers of bureaucracy in local government, and thanks to burdensome European regulation, the UK is a place where red tape assaults you at every turn – in business, in the home, out in public. And much of this is directed at keeping people safe.
I’m not against keeping people safe – there should be laws to protect people from the reckless and dangerous actions of others. However, this has to be balanced with an understanding that life entails risk, and if you eliminate risk you probably eliminate most of the good things in life. You also make actually living life, or going out, or running a business, difficult.
British rules and regulations have made life increasingly difficult for businesses. Health and safety law is particularly stringent in the work place, but many feel it has gone too far. It was reported last week that one council now requires its contractors to use scaffolding to change light bulbs. As you can imagine, in the case of small businesses the costs of adhering to similar crazy rules can be crippling.
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