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Our Risky Environment

We are rightly worried about our beef burgers. The supposed international criminal conspiracy undermining the meat industry is easily located; it is the meat industry. But the meat industry is not unique.

Consider our bread. We have been suspicious about it for a long time. When white bread was invented or introduced it was popular with the rich; they felt more confident that they were not eating bread contaminated with mouse droppings or insects or their body parts. (Bleached excrement and beetle parts are OK?)

Then the rich became suspicious about white bread. It was of lower nutritional value. Indeed, all mass produced bread is of lesser value than homemade or artisan made bread.

These issues are sub-sets of a larger issue: we inhabit one environment, much of it engineered. Lots of things can go wrong and if one does many people will be affected.

The general legal principle (the law of negligence) means that the person or persons who engineer the environment will be answerable for the consequences when things go wrong (central bankers and politicians, generally, excepted).

We have tried to make some of those “engineers” more readily answerable for the hazards of parts of that environment.

Employers come to mind.

See HERE  for the advice from the UK Health and Safety Executive to employers about safeguarding employees (and others, partially) from infectious agents.

Some of the “engineers” are builders and we have recent reason to think about walls and the building of them. In Cowan v GAA and McInerney & Son Ltd. [1991] 1 IR 389 the court heard that the plaintiff, a spectator, was injured when part of a wall collapsed on him at Croke Park in 1985. The part of the wall not collapsed had dowels or rods in it; the collapsed part did not. The court inferred that the specification for the wall required rods in every part and therefore the second defendant was liable. The first defendant was also liable because it should have reviewed the safety of its premises with a general structural examination following two notable disasters in foreign public stadia in 1985