Poor Katie Waissel! Does she really deserve all the flack she’s been getting?

If you’re not one of the 12 million people that’s been tuning in to the X-Factor in recent weeks, let me tell you who Katie Waissel is, and why I mention her.

Katie was one of the lucky singers that made it through to the final 16 of the much hyped TV talent show. At first, the tabloids made a bit of a song and dance about how it was unfair she’d got so far. According to them, the public would have preferred a few others to have made it to the final. By “the public” I think the newspapers meant a few people on social media sites – Facebook and Twitter being the oracle of public opinion now of course.

Having created a new enemy of the people, the tabloids really went for Katie in the weeks that followed. They described her as “weird”, “irksome” and claimed none of her fellow contestants liked her. All kinds of strange tales about family and friends followed. It became clear that the public – by “the public” this time I mean people voting for their X-Factor favourites – didn’t like Katie either. She kept appearing in the bottom two on the show, saved only to sing again the following week by a panel of judges who rated her performances highly.

But what’s this got to do with health & safety? Well I think Katie Waissel has a lot in common with health & safety and here’s why.

At times (like Katie) health & safety doesn’t seem to have the backing of the public. A lot of this stems from hearsay and a bad press. Myths have been built around “elf n’ safety” as some newspapers like to call it. Apparently, health & safety people go out of their way to ban things that are fun, lack common-sense and are interfering bureaucratic busy-bodies.

I don’t think health & safety deserves this flack. And to be honest, neither does Katie. To me, health and safety (like Katie) is too often judged according to what some people say, rather than what it actually does.

Katie is a singer. That’s what she should be judged on. And from what I’ve heard, she’s pretty good. Cowell, Cole, Minogue and Walsh seemed to think so, and who am I to argue with them?

Health & safety is there to stop people getting killed or injured at work. That’s what it should be judged on.

The year 1974 was a turning point for health & safety in the Britain. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) was established and employers faced a general duty to manage health & safety for the first time through the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. This was when the UK started taking health & safety seriously. In 1974, 651 people died and 336,701 were injured at work in Britain. Last year, 111 died and 85,110 were injured. That’s 540 fewer people killed each year and 251,591 fewer injured. Health & safety works!

Don’t believe the hype either. When health & safety is implemented by managers, supervisors and staff who are properly trained and qualified, it doesn’t ban activities but controls risks using common-sense measures. That’s how health & safety really works.

So please stick up for health & safety, even if it is a bit like Katie Waissel. At least it’s not like Wagner!

About Teresa Budworth