On the radio yesterday morning there was a discussion of some interest about Health and Safety in the workplace. During the subsequent phone-in, I was hearing comments that remind me of many meetings with employers and small/medium business owners who equate issues of health and safety with equality and diversity. I have often been told that both are red tape interventions by government (or Europe) demanding unsustainable legislative compliance, thus demonstrating how little politicians and bureaucrat understand of the affairs of businesses today.
My guess is that it the same people who moan that “it’s health and safety gone mad” would also be the ones to say “it’s just political correctness, gone mad”. What do the two issues have in common, I wonder?
Not being a specialist in matters of H&S, I feel disinclined to make much comment about it, except to say that all people in the workplace have the right to work in a safe environment and that it is incumbent on employers to ensure their safety. Whether some of the requirements are excessive is a matter for discussion between employers, employees, unions, insurers and the Health and Safety Executive, perhaps even politicians.
Equality and Diversity is not the same and should not be considered a Political issue at all, neither should it be considered a simple case of meeting requirements as laid down by equality legislation. It is actually a moral and ethical issue, not one of political correctness, just correctness. It is about social justice, fairness, equity and rights and should never be equated with health and safety, even when there is some overlap.
Every person is entitled to equality of treatment and recognition of their personal human rights. Certainly, there are some aspect of human rights that are open to discussion; issues written about in previous articles in this blog; for instance should prisoners have the right to vote, or complexities that occur when one person’s right impinges on another’s.
It is the duty of us all to ensure we live and work in a fair and equitable society, where all have equal rights and opportunities? Such a place should not be considered a utopian dream, never to be realised. Indeed, it is just around the corner and can be achieved. Each of us needs to take responsibility for our own behaviour and have the confidence to challenge a situation we see as unfair, even when we are not the victim – it might be us next time.
So if, in the future, you find yourself about to say “it’s just political correctness gone mad” stop and think is it political correctness, or just correctness.