So there I was with the family on holiday in Germany. I had already experienced lower fuel prices, cleaner loos and super friendly hotel staff. Has the health and safety thing in Britain gone mad then? If it has, is it costing our economy? If it is then do we need to address this? I am aware that David Cameron spoke about Health and Safety gone mad during his election campaign – perhaps he is making the necessary changes to the law to reduce the red tape.
I hope he is, in Germany I realised every time I filled my car at the pump that with the widget locked in, the pump could overflow, pour out of my car on to the floor of the service station just at the same time I was stubbing out my cigarette (I don’t smoke) and the whole thing could go up in flames but I was acutely aware that as I am an adult capable of interrupting this chain of events it was unlikely it would progress to that state without me spotting what was happening and reacting accordingly. This gave me a feeling of responsibility and with that came a sudden realisation that the Germans trusted me and each other.
I think we lack this here in the UK, trust, faith and confidence seem to have been replaced by laws and rules – instead of being left to us as mature adults to decide what we can cope with and what we can’t. I believe we need this back. We need to be responsible.
I remember hiring a lovely lady – one of her job roles was health and safety – before we hired her I was aware of certain rules and regulations, after I hired her I became aware of how unaware I really was. The volume of laws, rules, regulations and so on is daunting, pick up any Health and Safety rule book and you will understand just what I mean. She was only doing her job when she came to me and questioned my actions with the rule book but I was very aware of how narrow my opening to be a risk taker was becoming.
The point is that in a way this rule book removed any responsibility – instead, when a decision had to be made we just referred to the rule book and I think this curbed the creativity within the business, the risk taking, the entrepreneurialism.
6 months ago I started a fresh lead gen business, I hired a guy from East London who had very little experience with regulations, rules or legislation and set him to work in a serviced office in soho, always emphasising the need to take calculated risks and try new things to generate fresh leads – since starting he has not fallen over any loose cables and broken his pelvis, he has not set him self on fire turning the office lights on and off, he has not fallen from the window when closing the door at night, in fact I am not sure if we have had one single incident to report in our accidents book displayed prominently on the shelf in the middle of the office. He does however take lots of calculated risks and finds new ways to generate fresh leads which is what I like the most.
I suppose Germany demonstrates that balance is required and that whilst caution or fear, is on one side of the scale, risk or faith must be on the other.