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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 7 October 2014
Bit of a laugh to begin with, but after halfway a bit heavy going. But informative
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on 14 July 2014
Unlike the previous reviewer, I actually have read the book. The main thrust is not an attack on health and safety but rather it's wilful distortion by public bodies and others to the point of absurdity. The authors highlight the 'theatre of security' which allows space for consultants to sell solutions to spurious threats. This, together with the fear of litigation, results in the disproportionate response which have no basis in law or common sense. The point the authors wish to reinforce is that the public need to challenge such misuse and insist that those responsible justify their official policies, but more importantly change them to reflect reality.

In summary, an amusing and exasperating read, but one that offers useful advice to anyone who has ever wondered, Why? That just doesn't make sense!
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on 31 March 2015
Good to here some balance on health & safety issues with facts not opinions - well researched articles and not the rubbish you read in the Daily Mail and other papers. Nice references to childhood memories from the 1970s. Shame the more people don't have such a balance view of safety
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on 1 August 2014
I enjoyed reading this common sense explanation of the misuse of safety rules for imposing restrictions on the public. After 30 years as a health & safety professional (not a box ticker), I heartily endorse the theme of 'ask for the evidence' before accepting new 'safety' rules, especially if they're a knee-jerk reaction to a highly publicised issue. The need to be seen to do something by politicians in response to media (or public minority) pressure is not justification! Life is not risk-free, but the confusion between real safety and fear of litigation will continue to cloud the issue as long as no-win-no-fee claiming for for every little incident is permitted.
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“Elf and Safety” has long been ridiculed for being over cautious and part of the Nanny state; in the wake of 9/11 the world has gone Health and Safety crazy – but are all the restrictions, particularly in airports really necessary? Well it appears to be “security theatre” – in other words, these measures have to be seen to be taken in order that people will feel safe. The authors quote the stupidity of a rule which confiscates a butter knife from a pilot, but allows, if not encourages, passengers to board a plane clutching bottles of duty free alcohol which could be turned into Molotov cocktails! They have dissected the rules and the reasons and found that despite unbelievably vast amounts of money, no bombs have been found on passengers travelling on planes, nor have the materials to make explosives ever been found. Experiments have been carried out o determine whether or not certain explosives could possibly be made on a plane – the answer is a decisive No, yet still the rules are in place. Anything that is even slightly connected to a gun is confiscated – from a T-shirt bearing a drawing of a gun to a teeny tiny plastic gun attached to a teeny tiny toy soldier. Rules is Rules seem to be the overriding order of the day, as common sense and logic fly out the window.

There are chapters dealing with different issues – photographers being banned from taking photographs of their own children playing football. Children having to be supervised at swimming pools, and the extraordinary lengths one mother went to get the rules changed. Road and rail safety: after the Clapham Junction rail crash (1988), fares increased, apparently to pay for improved safety measures. The following year there was a substantial increase in road traffic – this in turn resulted in more road injuries and deaths. The authors draw the conclusion that “more people died as a result of new safety measures on the railways than the crash that catalysed them”. What they fail to mention is that along with increased fares there was the fear of another major rail crash. At times I felt the book was somewhat biased, and determined to ridicule just about everything they examined.

Although the subject matter might be perceived to be as dry as an old bone, there is enough humour to keep it a fairly light read. What disappointed me was the lack of information on how to go about changing things, despite the fact that this book is supposed to contain just that. For that it gets only a three star rating from me, but I will read it again sometime in the future.

Net Galley provided a free Kindle download for me to read and review; this has not influenced my review in any way.
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on 26 July 2014
This is a well researched and well written book that all staff engaged on security or any service to the Public should read. It clearly sets out the absurdity of so called security and health and safety of the modern world. It is not a polemic against sensible precautions, the writer is well aware of the way that unions and employers have introduced polices and procedures that mean that we are all far safer from harm in the work place and the design of products which keep us safe, but the book does raise important issues about the 'theatre of security' which blight everyone's lives imposed often by unthinking staff. The book asks us to challenge the assumptions and wrong headed logic about why these rules are imposed, not by having a rant at the poor souls who are often as uncomfortable about imposing the ridiculous policies as you are about abiding with them, but by a sensible dialogue with the people who insist on them from the back office.
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on 26 October 2014
As a manager in the railway-business I know only too well the great number of rules and regulations which are there too achieve the best possible level of safety. However, every individual should know or at least feel that a certain amount of responsibility rests upon each of us and therefore themselves. No safety-measure, how ludicrous and far-fetched they may seem, can remove that responsibility. This book looks in a realistic and yet often humourous way at the safety-industry where a seemingly unending number of people roll over each other to create more safety.
I had this book on my desk during a couple of weeks for colleagues (and safety-managers) to have a look at. As a result I had to order a few more for them! Very readable and a true must for every person involved in safety-management.
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on 31 August 2014
It puts to bed some of those myths most of us tend to believe. Very informative and if I had the time or energy I might as suggested in the book challenge some of the rules that are not as mandatory as some establishments/ authorities would have us believe.
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on 8 August 2014
A good eye-opener to the some times petty rules that make us go "what ?!?! Really?!?!?" Funny and yet frustrating a very good read and a good conversation piece (we have spent many hours relating our own health and safety stories over a pint or a meal or at a bus stop !!) I bought this book as a gift for my husband who constantly bangs his head on walls in sheer frustration when trying to do his job (always I might add with a hard hat on, safety glasses, gloves and hi viz vest on -- no ppe slacker here !!) he is currently writing his own version and boy will it need editing and a warning on the cover !!
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on 18 July 2014
The pros:
The message of this book is on the nail - pointless bureaucracy and ill-thought out responses to perceived threats should be challenged. Those challenges should be based on evidence. They correctly name several matters that I both personally, and through a review of the available evidence, agree with.

The cons:
For a book that constantly challenges the reader to seek the evidence, they provide relatively little themselves and name or at least, misrepresent, several 'absurd rules' that are actually well evidenced as being a real risk and hazard. Looking through references provided and finding links to Guardian articles, blog posts, videos and news stories strikes me as being somewhat anecdotal.

I'm happiest reading this when they are actually linking to scholarly articles and in one instance at least I recall a reasonable discussion of the merits of it's study. Fair enough. But when you're talking about actual life saving measures (as opposed to the photographing of children etc.) then I would expect more backup on the final decision from the author as to the absurdity of the rule. Confirmation bias and anecdote are not a way to convince me.

Still, I come back to why a 3 star despite my disagreements - because the key message, if not some of the findings, is one I can relate to. Read this book, take their comments and opinions into account, and come to your own conclusions on whether a rule or regulation is absurb or not.
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