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THIS POST MAY CAUSE IRRITATION

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THIS POST MAY CAUSE IRRITATION

Health and bloody safety. It's everywhere isn't it?

No, it isn't. There's one area where it's not only ignored, it's actively flouted. Now I know that, as someone who believes that life's dangers are there to weed out the stupid, I should be applauding this final bastion of peril as the needle in the lip balm of life that reminds us that we are, indeed, alive. But come on, at least be consistent.

My house is currently in a state that would be regarded as uninhabitable in Khayelitsha, courtesy of plasterers, decorators and - it would seem - Visigoths. Our existing decor was challengingly colourful when it went up in 1990, but had become pleasantly eroded by time, grandchildren and the wife's Lambert & Butlers. Nothing so jarring as an identifiable colour disturbed the monochrome quietude. So, a few weeks ago, she who must be obeyed decided that it should be redecorated. This, apparently, requires walls to be excavated to half their thickness and every horizontal surface to be covered in beige slurry and footprints.

When a slight precession of the builders' gyroscopes finally produced a flattish wall, we went out to buy pictures and door handles. I've no idea who made the handles or what the pictures depict as every square inch of all of them was obscured by warning labels. The pictures bore two particularly threatening notices:

WARNING
IMPROPER HANGING OF THIS ITEM COULD CAUSE IT TO FALL, POSSIBLY CAUSING INJURY. YOU ARE STRONGLY RECOMMENDED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE WITH INSTALLATION.

Scary stuff, eh? But it gets worse...

WARNING
THIS ITEM MAY BE HEAVY. CARELESS LIFTING COULD CAUSE INJURY. ALWAYS GET HELP BEFORE LIFTING

Needless to say, all of the pictures are still in the boot of the car as I'm terrified to remove them. One of them was nearly a foot square, so I had a lucky escape. I promise I'm not making this up.

But then I came to unpack the door handles. They were mounted on card inside miniature plastic fish tanks and looked spectacular, especially with all the yellow and black warnings. Removing them required the following:

Screwdriver
Pliers
Another screwdriver with a cross-head
Wire cutters
A smaller screwdriver
Different pliers
A Haynes manual

Honestly, I remember changing the engine of a Skoda Estelle with fewer tools. And, as there were eight door handles to unpack, in less time. And less requirement for medical attention. By the time I'd been savaged by hidden staples and slashed by tearing plastic I'd lost enough blood to earn my next donor's badge.

When I left school I worked briefly in a factory that featured two 12 foot deep pits for building furnaces. There were no rails or safety harnesses as it was generally agreed that falling into them would be a bloody stupid thing to do. And, know what? No one did. Nowadays, you can't open the fridge without signing a waiver in case of frostbite or a milk carton falling on your foot.

But buy any child's toy, or just about anything in a DIY shop, and it's perfectly OK that you're more likely to open an artery than open the bleeding package.

Comments
Its gone mad Jem, when I worked at Standard Triumph on the electrical maintenance and when I had to change light bubs in the factory 40 feet up. It would be a ladder with a mate with a foot on the bottom rail, then balance like a monkey on a 2 inch metal beam then grab the nearest bit of metal or wood then lean out and change without any safety harnesses or hard hats we properly change 20 or 30 bulbs in one go. Now when I see what they have to do for health and safety it would take a week to do what we did in half a morning. Good job there is no h&s about when Johan and me are out foraging I believe you know what I mean.
Comment by Glyn John  29/03/2017 18:50:17

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