‘Inspection regime must be reviewed’

THE reputation of health and safety has taken a serious knock in recent years – thanks to its over-zealous enforcement in inappropriate situations.

We have seen our fair share of such nonsense in Edinburgh where schools and community groups have been forced to abandon perfectly sensible plans in the face of ridiculous bureaucracy.

But the Legionnaire’s outbreak in the Capital has been a timely reminder of why health and safety matters – and why it must be carried out thoroughly in the right circumstances.

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Sadly, there are serious doubts over whether that has happened in Edinburgh in the wake of recent events.

The risk of legionella from several industrial processes carried out in the city has long been very well known.

Yet it has taken the deaths of two people and more than 90 falling ill for faults to be uncovered at three locations in the Capital.

As Alistair Darling says today, the inspection regime overseen by the Health and Safety Executive must be completely reviewed.

Their inspectors only visited the sites at the centre of investigations into the outbreak twice in the last five years.

The HSE insists that it has a robust monitoring system in place which means it does not need to make regular on-the-spot inspections.

The evidence at the moment casts considerable doubt on that.

Those who have fallen ill, and the families of those who have died, will not be satisfied until the entire system has been subjected to a root-and-branch review.

No pain, no gain

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motorists will be holding their heads in their hands this morning at the prospect of the disruption that closing York Place for more than a year will cause.

Driving through the city centre has regularly become a nightmare experience in recent years thanks largely to the seemingly endless tram works.

There is no doubt that, as city council leader Andrew Burns readily admits, this latest phase is going to be painful.

There have however been encouraging signs over the last few months that the project is making quicker and smoother progress than ever before.

This work has to be done if we are to see any benefit at all from the trams, so we can only hope that the positive moves continue, and the work is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.