Is it safe to give advice?

A piece in the Times today warns that Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.

Any council or NHS worker will be asked to log any safety concerns they spot, and will give advice.

I am always concerned by anyone who gives advice, it is information that they ought to be giving, then letting people decide how to live their lives based on evidence based information.

I remember being advised to do various things in the house, one of them being to get plug socket covers. I didn't take the advice with good reason, I thought they drew extra attention to the plug sockets, and as you have to take them out to plug something in, children are likely to start to play with them and try to plug them in. I recently found out that these covers are not considered necessary by ROSPA, and that Which have found that they may in fact be used to disable the inherent safety feature of a plug socket if they are put in upside down because they can release the safety feature inside the hole for the top pin exposing the live parts in the bottom two holes.

I was also advised - as parents often are, not to share a bed with my baby. This is because my health worker considered this to be dangerous, but again, this is not based on evidence. The evidence says that just as you can make cot sleeping safe by placing the baby on its back etc. you can also make the parents bed safe by not drinking and smoking etc. The real danger is actually when the baby wakes in the night, the mother gets up to feed them, then - taking the advice not to sleep with their baby in their bed, end up falling asleep on the sofa, this is where most of the co-sleeping baby deaths occur.

Often the advice is not based on nice guidelines - they are so often based on opinion and personal experience.

You can imagine the picture that could be painted of a risk filled home should a parent refuse to take the advice and make their own evidence based informed decisions. Let's have a health and safety review on the dishing out of advice unless the agencies involved are prepared to be held responsible when their bad advice goes wrong.


Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.