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Winter Sports - too risky?

This month the world has been in awe watching some of the most extreme sports being competed for in South Korea.

Throughout the Olympic Games, I have been posting winter sport themed images across social media, because in my opinion these high risk sports are what health and safety is all about.

It is human nature to take risks in life - we have been doing it ever since we were cavemen and cave women hunting for food.

Taking risks is how we learn to be safe, and there is nothing more global to show this than watching people hurtling down an icy slide headfirst on a tea tray, acrobatically jumping high in the sky on a snowboard, or racing at high speed down a steep mountain as fast as they can.

These athletes have learned how to do their sports safely - often by having accidents and learning from them. In most cases when weather conditions have made it too dangerous, the sports have been postponed (such as the men’s downhill skiing due to the wind). They did this because over time they have learned from past accidents as to what is too risky and what is not.

Learning from our mistakes, and learning your own limits, is vital in both workplace health and safety and in life in general.

The mistakes learned from the tragic events at Grenfell Tower will no doubt lead to changes in practices and legislation. This has happened in tragedies throughout the centuries. Many have paid the price for us to learn in order to make what we do safer- by developing new technologies and practices.

Sadly young people these days are often overprotected from harm - from playing out (either through choice or otherwise). They can spend too much time in front of a computer, games machine or television and not enough time  participating in adventurous pursuits or sport, falling over on playgrounds and so forth. 

People have become more and more risk averse. 

We often see events cancelled “because of health and safety”. No! They are cancelled because people don’t want to control the risks adequately or take blame if things go wrong.

Activities should be assessed before they take place so that injuries are reduced as much as possible, but they should not prevent us from the adventures that make us human. 

Danger and risk should not mean we cannot do something - we just need to do it having assessed that risk - whether it be in life, at work, or in sport.

Watch in awe the extreme events on the ice and snow of Korea. Learn from them but don’t be put off by them. Use the dreams and achievements of the likes of Lizzy Yarnold and personal disappointments of Elise Christie to help inspire us to grow as a human species. 

In the words of Daft Punk, we need to “work it harder, make it better, do it faster” as this ”makes us stronger“ and, it also makes us safer. 

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