Monday 4 May 2020

Elf and Safety culture comes home to roost

Throughout my adult life in the UK, Health and Safety has risen up the agenda like far faster than the banal topic ever deserved to.

It did so for two reasons:

1) The British attitude of jobsworthiness has long been a core part of our working and middle class culture. Health and Safety fits nicely with this approach to life, allowing people to skive and do naff all on some rubbish pretext they made up on the spot. Only now with added local Government regulation and some unhelpful EU regulation handily gold plated in Whitehall, which enables them to justify whatever fancy has taken them.

2) It is part of the left-wing approach to society, everyone must be 100% safe at all times and if they are not then you are a bastard Tory who is wishing them dead. Subtle, it ain't - but it has been a great platform for common purpose on the left. Allowing huge swathes of pointless bureaucracy to be created and thousands of non-jobs created, which the left always think is the same a real jobs being created, but there we go.

So why do I get on my high horse now? Well over the weekend polls came out suggesting the UK is  the most conservative country when it comes to ending the lockdown. As one of the hardest hit globally, it is not that surprising, but that does not make it a good thing.

Not only do people not want to come out and play again, but the Left Wing unions are using HSE excuses to stop their, um, 'workers' from having to actually drive a train or sell a ticket again. The same is true across a swathe of the economy, including teaching Unions pulling the same trick to keep schools closed and their teachers safely at home (at least teachers can distance educate for older kids). We all can see the business models of restaurants won't work with half the table capacity but that is what is being floated as the obvious course to take.

Whilst the true threat of the virus is real, the day to day threat even now is far, far less than when we started lockdown. Undoing lockdown is tricky to keep opening whilst keeping the pandemic manageable. However, the whoel HSE approach to life is going to keep us living more more seperate and less exciting lives than nescessary due to its ability to let jobsworths indulge their favourite pastime of work avoidance and Unions the power to stop school re-opening or buses and trains running.


Dave Ward said...

"Polls came out suggesting the UK is the most conservative country when it comes to ending the lockdown"

And this is why:

"We all can see the business models of restaurants won't work with half the table capacity but that is what is being floated as the obvious course to take"

Doesn't need to be:

"Government adviser says guidelines on keeping apart was 'conjured out of nowhere'"

decnine said...

Serves the Government right for rushing to appease the 'something must be done' brigade when the likes of Piers Morgan began shooting from the lip. They should have taken Dennis Healey's advice.

dearieme said...

H&S: a million years ago I was asked to "act down" to compensate for a lack of supervisors on a petrochemical plant. So I donned my boots, boiler suit, hard hat, goggles, earmuffs, and gloves, and sallied forth. I'd done lots of calculations about the plant but none of the operators knew me. Came tea-break. I and one of my new chums walked into the canteen.

A bully - i.e. a shop steward - was on a podium, instructing the "lads" on how he wanted them to back him up in his plan to lie about a safety problem to screw the company. My new chum shot me a look that said 'for pity's sake, never mention this to your boss'.

Nor did I. But I was struck by how much the steward's performance resembled the sort of accounts that the Daily Express used to carry, or the film 'I'm All Right, Jack'. No supervisor would have dared, or chosen, to address operators in that way.

The experience simplifies my response to every claim by a union about safety issues. They are lying. It's just an attempt at extortion.

The "lads", by the way, were having none of it.

Anonymous said...

It is part of the left-wing approach to society, everyone must be 100% safe at all times and if they are not then you are a bastard Tory who is wishing them dead.

You've never been on the receiving end of mass produced PI claims from minimum wage paralegals then.

Sod all to do with politics, and everything to do with ambulance chasing legals - a skill we are apparently world class at.

Good news is according to that left-wing rag, the Daily Mail, some 70% of high street solicitors will be out of work in a year's time.

Anonymous said...

Cherie Blair.

Was behind the moves that ended the previous decision by courts to grant a ‘ reasonable settlement.’ Into the USA culture of suing everyone for billions, for nothing.

E-K said...

Elf 'n' Safety was actually started by Mrs Thatcher. She cut back legal aid and replaced it with 'mercan no-win-no-fee lawyering and adverts between Jeremy Kyle.

Hence "mind the gap", "hold the handrail", "the contents of this apple pie may be hot", "do not drink this disinfectant"....

The slightest slip up by a business and they get their arse sued off.

I couldn't even take my boy scouts fishing. The risk assessment was horrendous !

As of the rail unions... yes. I'm annoyed. If we don't get services up and running there will be even more job cuts than are already coming - and plenty of airline pilots willing to take up the roles left. I'm up for getting on with it. (I haven't stopped working, out tonight)

There should at least be a ballot and maybe people should be asked to work on a voluntary basis but...

This disease has been made out to be the Black Death when it is nothing of the sort but surveys are now showing that the majority of people have bought into the *terror* and want to stay in lockdown - seeing the PM turn into Brundlefly on Skype didn't exactly inspire confidence and there is a clear link with obesity... not good for my industry. Not good for our country, either.

Too many pies maybe but the exaggerations that have brought us here are not our fault.

E-K said...

Dearieme - Hence secret ballots.

I'm sure some people are capable of bullying but I've never seen it in thirty years (nor have I ever been on strike in that time.)

Nessimmersion said...

The keenness to continue the shutdown is only because it is being financially rewarded.
Nonsense headline just now on BBC - the govt is paying 6 million people's wages!
See how many teachers etc want to stay off if the govt to relieve pressure on economy says saying at home can continue until people feel confident, but its dole money only!

jim said...

Well, colour me pink. Taking fewer risks makes you safer. The lockdown has 'worked' but the disease has not gone away, nor has any cure emerged nor any sure fire treatment. Unlikely that CV has creamed off all the vulnerable, there are plenty more to be had. Ease lockdown and you get more cases, simples.

So one can understand the unions, the transport workers and the teachers being a bit cautious and skeptical. This is not the usual H&S stuff, a bashed toe or a bad back, we are talking DEATH, no coming back or saying sorry from that. From what little we know the more contact with CV the worse the outcome. Transport, teachers and hospitals are right there at the head of the queue.

But there are obvious messaging problems. We can't afford to stay locked down forever, but it is not the business leaders and shareholders and politicians who are likely to die. They are tucked up safe at home. Similarly with the bas&*ds at the Telegraph and the right wing of the Tory party. Safe as houses they. An analogy with WW1 generals at ease in a chateau swilling champagne whilst sending thousands to slaughter comes to mind.

Peddling the 'its only a touch of flu' schtick is not very convincing, especially coming from an armchair far from the action. Perhaps we might restore the officer ethic of leading from the front. MPs, journos and leaders out on the trains and wards handing out tea and buns and masks. When they catch CV they can volunteer as plasma providers, for many the only use they have ever been. Perhaps IDS can don his Sam Browne belt and show us what he is made of.

Anonymous said...

There is an holiday industry meeting today to discuss opening up venues where social distancing won't be an issue. Top of the agenda is not PPE or keeping people apart but how many claims the companies and their insurers can expect.

It will be the same for any industry. Just look at the retail car industry. 97% drop in sales. People can buy car safely but ambulance chasers will argue otherwise.

Companies' only protection? Document everything. Assess everything. Keep copies and pay your insurance premiums.

GDP will surge as legal services (suing the ar*e of everyone) is part of the service economy.

Thud said...

Looking at Govt plan for reopening its pretty much what I expected. I do think that whoever wrote it has probably never met a builder nor been onsite, its just not going to wash and as usual we will quickly abandon most of it.

Jan said...


"This disease has been made out to be the Black Death when it is nothing of the sort but surveys are now showing that the majority of people have bought into the *terror* and want to stay in lockdown"

Agree 100%

Today if you listen hard to the BBC you might hear a small snippet of news about a positive test for CV in France in January. They re-tested swabs which had been classed as pneumonia and found one of them was actually CV. The virus has been sround for a while here as well. I'm convinced I had it over Christmas and New Year.

To shut down the whole economy was complete overkill IMHO yet as you say many people are petrifed of coming out of lockdown and probably will be for ages yet.

I find it hard to believe the masses have lapped up all the propaganda and quite scary too.

CityUnslicker said...

Jim, where are you coming from? Leading form the front? Boris and hancock and Cummings have all had it? Politicians are amongst the most exposed of all people. You could not piutch that more incorrectly.

CV sucks but it is not the great war, it will not kill hundreds of thousands of young people with young families. It wont kill lots of train drivers and ticket inspectors. But to pretend it will is the probelm and to take the traditional "IF IT LEADS TO EVEN ONE DEATH...." line it just plain wrong.

Those people on furlough are unemployed, soont he economy will be shrinking fast along with Government revenues, then the hard times start. We need to prevent them from becoming too deep but scaremongering about the disaease is preventing rational discussion and thought.

jim said...

Where I am coming from is that our politicians (and you) are failing to hit the right tone. The message plus action is wrong.

Boris/Dommy etc got CV through carelessness or bad luck, they were not deliberately put in harms way by others. That is what the politicians and some pundits are wanting to do to others. Fine, we are heading into a very very difficult situation, desperate even. That will require much much more explicit honesty from the politicians - and some genuine leading from the front such that losses are seen to be spread appropriately.

The difficulty is the message; 'look chaps, all we have is a few masks and no medicine, some of you are going to have to die so that we (especially us) don't go broke'. Whether the numbers are in the tens or hundreds or thousands is unknown. This is a very hard message to get across and stand any chance of ever getting voted in again. How to do it will be a masterpiece of political rhetoric.