17 Aug 2014

And Then There Was A Little H & S….

A lovely comment from Caratacus reminded me of a little pretend tale I was want to recount to Safety Officers, much to their annoyance,  back in the days when Health and Safety was slowly{?} morphing into the huge, sad monster we see today.

Many years ago, two brothers decided to seek employment out on the rigs. They got an interview with a rig manager and, by an amazing stroke of fortune, it transpired the manager was a guy they saw once in a while down the pub and had a head nodding, “Hi there” sort of relationship with.

As a further stroke of luck, the manager needed a couple of warm bodies out on his rig PDQ.
”So, assuming you can start right away, the jobs are yours.”
”We’re ready and raring to go.” said the brothers.
”Okay, I’ll get you along for a medical and then out to the rig tomorrow.”
”Cool.” And off they went to the Docs.

After their medicals they reported back to the manager for further instructions.

“Well,” he said focusing on one brother, “You’re fit to go but, sadly, I can’t hire your brother as he has a slight hearing defect and as it’s a hazardous environment out there you really need your five senses firing on all cylinders and one hundred percent hearing is vitally important. Sorry about that.”
”That’s a shame but we understand and accept it.”
”Right, I’m heading to the rig tomorrow so if you roll up here at the crack we’ll go out together.”

And this he did. And out together they went.

On the rig the ‘lucky’ brother quickly found his bunk, got changed and reported to the Control Room for a last word from the manager.

“When you go outside the Deck Pusher will be waiting for you and he’ll show you the ropes, okay?”
”Cool. I’ll get going then.” and he headed for the door.
”Yo!! Wait!! Wait!! You need a pair of these.” said the manager  handing him a set of ear defenders. “It can be noisy out there, especially in the engine room, so you need ear defenders.”
The full functioning brother put them on and noted how good they were at eliminating almost all sound. He removed them and asked, ”So I need to wear these if I go in the engine room, right?”
”Err, no, you need to wear them at all times while working.”
”Right. Hay, tell me again why you couldn’t hire my brother.”

The other brother, spotting a shift in wind direction, went on to ‘study’ Health and Safety, got a diploma and become a third party Safety Advisor to the offshore oil and gas industry and, remembering his earlier experience, became an unbelievable pain in the butt for anyone he came into contact with in an ‘advisory’ capacity.

How could I possibly post a post on this subject without pasting this at the end of the post;

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault. Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned, but overbearing, regulations were set in place.

Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teenagers suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they had themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer paracetamol, sun lotion or a plaster to a pupil, but could not inform the parents when a pupil became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home, but the burglar could sue you for assault because you protected yourself and your own.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realised that he was gone.

Quote;  Dr Robert Long.

“What a strange sense of logic to fixate on the absence of something (injury) as a demonstration of the presence of something else (safety). Such a proposition misunderstands the dynamic of risk and being human.”


A K Haart said...

In my field it reached a point where any manager could spend virtually all their time on health and safety. It was the path of least resistance.

Mac said...

I'm sure we'll never see any official figures out-lining the total hours per day spent on safety meetings, risk assessments, risk management, safety briefings, permit to work completing checking and signing. I'm sure I've missed at least twenty other safety related hurdles to be jumped before work can commence.