Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blue lights and red tape

HOW LONG do you think it will be before our Health and Safety nutters start killing more people every year than they actually save?

We've already had a child drown in a pond because the Hobby Bobbies called to his rescue hadn't been trained in the correct use of Wellington boots and so declined to intervene. And a woman bled to death after being stabbed by her boyfriend because armed police didn't fancy entering her home just in case the knifeman was still on the prowl.

Now we have 61-year-old Roy Adams, who dialled 999 when having a heart attack only for the paramedic who was supposed to come to his aid refusing to enter the house until he'd spent 16 minutes carrying out a risk assessment ... by which time, of course, Mr Adams was dead.

The nub of the problem was an open front door, which suggested to the lily-livered medic that there might be armed and dangerous burglars lurking within. The truth of the matter is that Mr Adams was asked by the emergency services to leave his front door open so that assistance could be at his side all the sooner. Ironic, isn't it?

The London Ambulance Service says: "In this case the medic conducted an on-scene risk assessment and had safety concerns and decided to call for back-up. The assessment is a mental check list which medics are required to go through when they arrive at an emergency. Questions include: does the scene look safe? Are there any obvious risks? Will I need extra help? Are there any steps or other obstacles that could cause a problem?"

Well no, you shithouse. There's just a dying man lying on the floor on the other side of that open door and you're such a jobsworth that you won't even help him. Honestly, it beggars belief.



Anonymous Onan the Barbarian said...

Don't ambulances have a crew of two - so where was this wanker's oppo? There's usually one bald sweaty bloke paired with some awful harpie who's hair is spikey orange. They're easy to spot in their Lincoln-green romper suits, hammering around in a big dayglo van with 'AMBULANCE' emblazoned across it (that's 'AMBULANS' for those of a Welsh persuasion who can't/won't read English).

PS You forgot the McAuley Catholic High School in Doncaster's edict that all pupils must wear clip-on ties because 'It is feared that pupils may be strangled accidentally during playground games in which they yank each others' ties or that the ties could catch fire in science lessons'. Truly pathetic.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Philedas said...

I think you're right to call into question the effectiveness of H&S measures and the culture that surrounds it, but I think that taking cheap shots at individual cases where the full facts aren't known is questionable - but I guess this is what you do mostly.

The main problem with H&S (and risk assessments) is the ability, or lack of it, of the people doing the assessments. Risk assessments can be complex and time consuming - as didn't happen at Bhopal for example, or they can be simple and take seconds - which should have happened in the paramedic's case.

It's a common misconception that risk assessments are there to eliminate risk ie: should I do something or should I not - not true, they should be there to minimise risk in what you are trying to do. The residual risk should then be gauged against the value of what you are trying to do.

Too many ill trained people carry out risk assessments wrongly or badly - which I guess is where we came in with the paramedic (maybe) making the wrong decision.

3:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he didn't have an oppo - they've split the crews into solo response units, the better to meet targets. this means the job they signed up for just got a lot more dangerous, especially when you consider they're carrying around a pack of serious drugs and equipment.
I imagine two possible scenarios here - one, he's aware of a violent junkie who lives in that block of flats and doesn't want to walk in all by his lonesome to be done over; two, he's been dying for a good cigar all shift and figures #uck it, I need a smoke. Oh, three, he knew the guy and owed him money.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous assegai mike said...

The moon landing coverage of recent weeks has put our risk-averse times into very sharp relief. Utterly mesmerising watching the Eagle's last few minutes before touchdown with the computers going haywire and fuel running out, all those fellows at Mission Control, mostly in their 20s, dragging on their smokes and holding their nerve, Neil and Buzz as cool as you like.

Here's my whitepaper to replace the whole H&S mega-industry: Take some Personal Fucking Responsibility and Be Careful.

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Sorry Mike, but the last statement just contradicted your entire message: no-one took responsibility and no-one were being careful.

The Moon landings were an experiment - no-one knew for definite whether it were to happen; it was an adventure along the same lines of Columbus or the Vikings: jump in a boat, set sail, see where we go.

If there was an ounce of responsibility and carefulness, then the Powers that Be would have booked a Hollywood sound-stage and filmed it "live" so has not to put the lives of Buzz, Neil and Michael Collins (the third one) in jeopardy.

4:00 AM  
Anonymous Scruggs said...

Oh dear Philedas, you have got it bad haven't you.

Taken to its extreme, which I am sure it will be some day, this H&S nightmare will invade everything we do.

Best practice would require that you carry out a Risk Assessment before you get out of bed in the morning. What are the perceived risks during the forthcoming day? How can they be removed or mitigated? What would be the result of the residual risks that cannot be mitigated. What will be required to make it safely back to bed that evening (following an assessment of the coming nights risks of course).

Maybe there should be tax relief for people who submit daily Risk Assessments to the Government on the basis that they have done all they can to reduce the likelyhood that they will need to burden the NHS with some form of avoidable injury?

Risk Assessemnts have been around for many centuries but they were known back then as applying common sense!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually it's more about the compo claiming culture generated by the "Where there's blaim, there's a claim", morning TV advertising, lawyer brigade we've cultivated from America. I have nothing against genuine cases where dodgy companies cut costs and risk/cause injury to their workforce, what I do have a problem with is councils cutting conker trees down in case they get sued or 5 page advice documnets for teachers on how to use a fucking glue stick. I still have scars from my youth caused by falling out of trees or off the side of buildings or from team sports, yes sure school may have co-ordinted the sport or the council may have "owned" the trees but it was my risk taking not anyone's fault

10:26 AM  
Blogger Semolina Pilchard said...

Like a lot of legislation created by this bunch of incompetents, what starts as a good idea very quickly gets turned into a ball of shite. H & S. A good idea to stop brickies on tall buildings proving Newtonian laws of gravity or steel foundry workers falling into vats of molten steel. But what we end up with is highly trained individuals not doing their jobs and being allowed to use H & S as an excuse. (remember the recent photo-shoot of two coppers with bikes, but one wouldnt sit on his because he hadnt passed his cycling proficiency test and would therefore contravene H & S?).Common sense should trump H & S anyday. I would put a 75% tax on all profits made by law companies who win compo cases. Then we would see who gets 100%, Claims4U.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Dusty said...

I'm looking forward to the days when our troops (having served in the Army for seven years - including tours in Iraq and Northern Ireland) have to re-enact the private soldier from a certain Monty Python sketch:

Private - "I'd like to leave the Army, please, Sir."

Colonel - "Good Heavens, man! Why?"

Private - "It's dangerous!"

Colonel - "What?"

Private - "There's men out there with guns, Sir! Proper ones, Sir!"

With certain occupations you have to accept that there's an element of risk and that at some stage you just might meet your maker. Personally, I'd rather it not be because I stood by having to fill out a form correctly first but because I tried to save a life at the expense of my own... unless it's some spotty oik stealing from an old lady's home that's caught fire.

... Then I just let the bastard burn.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Philedas said...

I wonder if Scruggs actually read and understood my post?

His (her?) post actually repeats my sentiments broadly if you combine his 3rd and 5th paragraphs - ie approaching life situations with a realistic attitude to risk assessment is generally called 'common sense'.

Mind you, where I disagree with Scruggs is that 'common sense' is common :o)

3:49 PM  
Anonymous assegai mike said...

Chris, I don't think those two things are contradictory but I would a agree that I didn't make my point well. By Be Careful, I meant, Don't Be Stupid. You might say be careful to people driving home meaning look out for idiots pulling out without looking, not dive at 20mph all the way.

1:06 AM  
Anonymous skydog said...

S.P.:''Common sense should trump H & S anyday.''

As Philedas (Is that some sort of supermop BTW?) points out, 'common-sense' ain't that common. The co. I work for P/T has its' mission statement as 'If it isn't safe, don't do it'

I don't think they've thought this one through as all the workforce might have a good case at an industrial tribunal for not turning in for work on the grounds that shit invariably happens.

I do lots of things that 'Aren't 100% safe'If they were 100% safe I'd be bored shitless ... the commonsense thing is to weigh the odds of ending up as a nasty stain on the road or plummeting from a great height in order to prove the effectiveness of gravity however so weak a force it may be.

3:55 AM  

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