WHAT DOES THE DOCTOR THINK THIS MONTH?
HEALTH & SAFETY MYTHS
A few years ago, Management and I stayed in a large, expensive hotel in Orford, owned by a couple where the wife has a TV series telling other hotel owners how to run their businesses. In the morning, we came downstairs, carefully negotiating around the cat which slept all day on the fourth step down, just as the stairs take a bend to the right (a real Health and Safety issue). The only table available in the dining room was in a dark corner. However, a couple had finished breakfast and were vacating a lovely table in the window bay. I asked the waitress to seat us at that table “I don't have time to clear that table now” came the peremptory reply. “That's OK, we can do it” I said, and started to clear the table, only to be told in no uncertain terms to buzz off to the table in the dark corner. My state of being a bit miffed turned to near vaporisation when the waitress brought our pot of tea “Members of the public are not allowed to clear tables for Health and Safety reasons” as she swept off. She returned with the toast and heard from me “When we agreed to stay in this establishment, we ceased to be 'members of the public' and became 'valued guests”. She sniffed and stormed off, soon to be replaced by a manager type who stiffly told us “We shall save that window table for you tomorrow” and then he stormed off.
Incidentally, this is the same hotel we were going to use for our son's wedding a couple of months later. When we happened to mention that we would be returning for the wedding, they told us that they did not accept wedding guests as they would not “eat in” on the Saturday night. They then cancelled our reservation, the reservations of our friends and family and, even worse, all the reservations that had been made by the bride's father and mother, who live in Orford. Deannie and I had booked a superior room, It was a box room and, when I queried the “superior” classification, I was told that it was because you could see the castle from the WC window if you bent down. Needless to say, this very expensive establishment derives its income from the “London set” and, so far as we can make out, little or nothing from Suffolk folk.
As you may have guessed, I was not impressed by the spurious use of Health and Safety regulations! There are thousands more Health and Safety myths and the Health & Safety Executive has become so fed up with being blamed for these spurious “regulations” which stop the public going about their normal lives that, in April last year, they hit back. They tell us that the Health and Safety Act is designed mainly for safety in the workplace and they have formed a Mythbusters' Panel to address these false claims. You can find hundreds of examples on the worldwide cobweb at the HSE website – Mythbusters section. A hotel had refused to provide lavatory brushes on Health and Safety grounds. The HSE refuted the hotel's claim. A primary school headmistress cancelled sports day because there was dew on the grass, blaming health and safety. The HSE clarified that there is no law stopping children from running on wet grass. A DIY store told customers that it could not cut wood panels to fit in a car for “health and safety reasons”. Once again, the HSE said that this was an incorrect interpretation of the Act and the chairman added “The stories just keep coming in – you could not make them up.
If you think a decsision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate to what you are doing, you can complain to the HSE Mythbusters Panel (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/contact-myth-busting.htm). The case will be investigated and the findings will be published on the HSE website. If you want to look at cases which have been considered by the Panel, look at http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/myth-busting/index.htm
My old friend, Bob Watts, told me a joke the other day. It is repeatable and funny to anyone who is not a wife, so at least half of you should enjoy it. A masked bank robber's mask slipped while he was carrying out the robbery. He asked the girl behind the counter is she had seen his face. She told him that she had, so he shot her. He asked the two men standing beside him whether or not they had seen his face. They said “Yes” so he shot them as well. He then asked an old farmer the same question “No” he said, “I didn't see your face but my wife did!”
A policeman stopped a driver for going through a red light. The driver went into a tirade, questioning the officer's parentage, sexual orientation, etc in highly explicit sexual terms. Silently, the officer wrote out the ticket and wrote “AH” in the bottom right hand corner. The driver queried the “AH”, “That's so, when we go to court, I'll remember that you are an ar***ole” said the officer. Two months later, they are in court. The driver had a terrible record of violations and had hired a solicitor who asked the officer to explain the “AH” on the ticket. “Aggressive and Hostile, Sir” came the reply. “Officer, are you sure it doesn't stand for ar***ole?” “Well Sir, you know your client better than I do” Best wishes to you all Ian Nisbet