I refer to the item (Backchat, 24 August) that outlined the recent publicity from the Health and Safety Commission (HSC ) urging people to "stop concentrating on trivial risks...".

I felt it was a bit rich of your journalist to poke fun at this advice. As far as I am aware the HSC hasn't threatened prosecution of teachers for slapping on sunscreen, nor introduced legislation banning tombola or British Bulldog, as your article seemed to suggest.

All too often such bans are introduced by petty bureaucrats or misguided individuals who have not been trained to carry out a risk assessment properly.

When a risk assessment has been done it is often used as an excuse to prevent an activity rather than a means of finding a safe way of carrying out the activity. The risk of being sued is all too often advanced as a reason for stopping what are perceived as risky activities.

Civil actions for compensation are brought by members of the public not the Health and Safety Executive/Commission.

Another common reason given for introducing or justifying such bans is the fact that insurance is either not available or is prohibitively expensive.

Perhaps we, the insurance industry, should take a look in our own backyard before making sly digs at the "health and safety oiks"? What have we done to promote proper risk assessment? How have we helped policyholders properly assess risk and take suitable and appropriate control measures? Is there something that we could do to support the HSC's call for a reasonable approach to health and safety and sensible assessment of risk?

Phil Grace
Casualty risk manager
Norwich Union Insurance