Some Occupational Health and Safety is Bull$41T – Should Safety be Third?
Does making SAFETY FIRST make SAFETY LAST?
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UPDATE October 2015 – THIS WAS ONE OF MY VERY FIRST BLOG POSTS – I’VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE THEN and UNLEARNED A LOT OF TRADITIONAL SAFETY RUBBISH – did I say "common sense" and imply that safety was a choice we make and that people get hurt because they are stupid? ooops, please forgive me! Please read this one: Is Safety a choice you make?
Today I had an epiphany. I was talking to a well respected veteran in the workers comp claims field, I was telling them all about the hard work I had put into this site, collecting Health and safety Resources and sharing them with the world in an attempt to try and save it. He said “It doesn’t matter how good all your systems, procedures and training are…it all comes down to some idiot who doesn’t give a shit about it”.
Mmmmmm, I think he has something there, how much effort do we put into all this safety stuff and still, people are getting hurt. Perhaps we need to do away with all this OHS bullshit and legislation. How much time, money and effort is going into, for example National Harmonisation of Safety Legislation? What if there was no Safety Legislation, what if we just relied on Common Law principles where if someone got hurt at work, instead of the employer being automatically guilty, the injured person had to prove that the employer was negligent and then any compensation was reduced by an appropriate amount for contributory negligence. Why should be put so much effort into protecting people from themselves, all that happens is that we make it hard for people that do have common sense and who choose, on their own volition, to do the right thing to protect themselves and others?
This little picture below is quite brilliant, TOTAL PLANKER suggests that instead of fining and sacking plankers we should let natural selection sort them out!
I cringe every time I hear “Safety First” or Zero Harm” – looks good on the wall or on the Corporate Policy but would a company really shut the gates if there was the slightest potential for their workers to get injured – Bullshit! Life is all about risk, from the time you wake up and decide to hit the snooze button, to putting extra butter on your toast to choosing to put your foot down at an orange light to taking a sickie…………Its all about the individual deciding to take a risk based on their previous experience, the potential gain and the possible outcomes. If Safety was always First we wouldn’t have landed on the moon, we wouldn’t have new products or new technology or successful entrepreneurs etc, etc Safety isn’t first and despite what these safety boffins and intellectuals would have us believe, it isn’t rocket science. Safety doesn’t even need a special name or an acronym – keeping people employed providing good quality products and services is the aim of society and if things are done properly and well and people take responsibility for their own actions then less accidents is a natural outcome.
If I, an alleged Safety Professional, go to mow the lawn on a Sunday morning I always do a risk assessment, check the area for foreign objects, notify the neighbours one week in advance, complete a formal prestart check on the mower, have a fire extinguisher handy while refuelling, recheck my SWMS and review the operating manual, put up warning signs, then put on long sleeved clothing, safety glasses, gloves, hearing protection and steel toe boots – BULLSHIT I DO! – but I have been paid big money to write such a procedure for a client and provide training in same!
More good reading to back up my argument OH&S Farce. The Herald looks at the ridiculous procedures imposed by a University of its staff who are obviously totally lacking on common-sense. Have a look at the feedback that this article received. Its safety first stuff like this that makes everyone say OHS is BULLSHIT! It has to stop or real safety issues do not stand a chance!
I recently went into a workplace and everyone was complaining that they had run out of hand sanitiser that was being provided to all individuals to keep on their desks. Half these people were coughing and spluttering – they had no immune system left – I felt like feeding them a bowl of dirt with tomato sauce!
Checkout the site DUMB WARNINGS – as they say: “Welcome to Dumb Warnings, where you may see the consequences of numerous pointless lawsuits. This site is dedicated to helping companies fight this menace which is plaguing society today. In addition to funny warnings labels, this site will also feature instructions, rules, and other information frequently placed on packages.”
I just found this great FORUM – East London Forum (ELF) and a thread called “Health and Safety Bullshit” – take a look at the excellent examples of Safety First gone wrong including the bloke sacked for preventing a train derailment or the new safe kids play ground that the kids hate and is actually a hazard or this lollypop man who cant go on the road. There is also a link to a great article about Public Servants who who will be made to pay costs when they wrongly cancel an event based on the perceived safety risk.
In an article the THE TELEGRAPH Titled “Health and safety fears are making Britain a safe place for extremely stupid people” Boris Johnson complains that Health and safety concerns are reducing life to mindless mayhem.
He says: “How dur-brained do you have to be to fail to grasp that pebble beaches are uneven and may be slippery? You might as well post a sign at the gates of the Vatican saying: "Caution: Pope at work". Or I could show you a park bench in London boasting an exclamation mark in a fluorescent yellow triangle and the warning, "May become wet". You don’t say! A bench in London may become wet, the public is told. I wonder whether we are doing enough to alert people to this fact, that it is raining in London on average 6 per cent of the time. Perhaps we should have a giant sign at Heathrow saying: "Welcome to Britain – danger of moderate precipitation".
The Mirror reports that “Staff at a primary school in Melksham, Wilts, fled inside when a five-year-old pupil got stuck up a tree in the playground, citing health and safety rules. Quick-thinking passer-by Kim Barrett helped the lad down, but instead of thanking her, headmistress Beverley Martin reported her to the police, who ticked her off for trespassing”
The ABC recently ran a story: Crazy rail safety rules blamed for delays. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) wants a review of new workplace safety rules governing the beleaguered city rail network in Brisbane. The RTBU’s Bruce Mackie says problems that used to take five minutes to fix are now taking up to 1.5 hours to rectify under a new five point safety plan. He says a rail worker who noticed a smouldering cigarette on a sleeper on Brisbane’s southside has been stood down after she failed to follow instructions to evacuate the station and call the fire brigade. "Now this station staff member thought that was the silliest instruction they’d ever heard," Mr Mackie said. "So they blocked the track as per the previous safety procedure and put the smoulder out with a bucket of water," he said. "Trains were running again within a few minutes.
Have a look at this article about “Dirty Jobs” Host Mike Rowe and his thoughts about safety being third – hard to argue with what he says
“But when you say ‘Safety First,’ and you say it over and over and over, you create the sense of complacency among your employees, along with the belief that slowly sinks in that allows them to assume that somebody else cares more about their own well-being than they do”
"Then you abdicate personal responsibility, and you ultimately send a counter-intuitive message."
But what if we took the lawyers and insurers and the government regulators out of the equation? What if we just let people assume risks in the full knowledge and acceptance of the possible dangers, in hopes of receiving the possible rewards, but willing to take their lumps if it doesn’t pan out?