Health & Safety…Yes. Politically correct scare stories…No!

There are two types of Health and Safety rules. Ones which are authorised by Professionals, and those which are not! The Health & Safety Executive is a much misunderstood and maligned organisation, and if someone states an error of fact with regard to the H&SE, it is our duty to leap to their defence! The rules which have grown up throughout industry have been collated and published for the general safety of the working population, and while I am the first to poke fun at some of the more ludicrous rulings from individuals who have obviously never been near danger, or industry, or anywhere outside their nurseries; I would stand forthright in condemnation of any attempt to downgrade the essential workings of an Institution which, for the most part, serves us well

I recently saw a comment on another blog regarding H&S rulings, and I quote as follows:-

“During a recent maintenance “shutdown”, husband was servicing some pumps or other on an oil refinery. The pumps were situated below ground in concreted chambers and accessed through a series of openings about 2 metres in diameter and 2 metres deep. He’s done it a hundred times in the past. Its quite easy and quite safe.. he just jumps in the hole and does his job!

This time, the company had employed half a dozen or so white coated, clip-boarded young lads from the ranks of the unemployed, whose job it was to make sure that whenever a man went into the hole, he came back up again. Husband wasn’t allowed into the hole, or climb out of it, without signalling to said white-coated, clipboarded youths of his intention. If the attendant was off to the loo, or on tea break, husband was either stuck in hole or remained out of it. Result? The Job took twice as long, and husband and colleagues.. some of them, tradesmen with over 30 years experience…were left feeling angry, frustrated and demeaned. I told him, more fool them for complying with such a stupid H & S requirement. Silly buggers. But he said they have no choice, Health & Safety Rules in the workplace. Break the rules and you’re out on your ear!

These white-coated and clipboarded youths were called ” hole watchers”.Quite surreal.”

After reading the above posted comment, I replied as follows:-

“Re: “These white-coated and clipboarded youths were called ” hole watchers”.Quite surreal.”

I would be less than fair if I did not respond to the post made by Jo. Working in an oil refinery is covered by a sector of the H&SE rules named ‘Hazops’, which translated means “Hazardous Operations’ and it means exactly what it says on the box. In any industrial environment, and especially where there are risks from the generation of toxic or hazardous gases, the first thing which is mandatory is to test the atmosphere to ensure that there is a)sufficient oxygen to sustain life and b) also ensuring that there are no poisonous or explosive gases in the same enclosed space. Without that simple and essential test, no-one should even think about entering an enclosed space, especially in a bloody oil refinery location! The refusal to obey simple safety rules such as those required of Jo’s husband is typical of a breed which thinks “I know better than they do” and proceeds to get himself, and possibly others, into a grave situation from which fatalities can result!
My own site in Stoke Newington was the site of two deaths of people who ‘knew better’ and my mate, who helped pull the bodies out, said that the faces of the dead men would stay with him for ever!
Poke fun at silly people and silly interpretations of the law; Yes! Disregard safety rules in a dangerous place; Never!”

Political correctness and stupidity aside, the H&SE stands guard on the safety of those in work, and if you disobey the ordinary rules, you deserve everything which hits you!

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