Never mind the width, feel the quality

(Published in abbreviated form in The Times Higher on 24 August 2007, as “Tide of paranoia swells safety fears needlessly”)
“We are in danger of having a wholly disproportionate attitude to the risks we should expect to run as a normal part of life.” So said the Prime Minister in May 2005. At the highest level those concerned with our Health and Safety are worried that we are getting things out of proportion. Bill Callaghan, chair of the Health and Safety Commission is “sick and tired of hearing that ‘health and safety’ is stopping people doing worthwhile and enjoyable things.” He urges people to “stop concentrating effort on trivial risks and petty health and safety.” This is a sentiment shared by Rick Haythornthwaite, head of the Better Regulation Commission who declares “Enough is enough – It is time to turn the tide”.
“Field work perils mount”, the main front-page story in The Times Higher on 3 August shows that the tide of risk aversion is still running strongly in the world of higher education…
Full article here [PDF]

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