Sometimes my posts are a bit more serious.
Health and Safety is often blamed nowadays for the restricting of activities which were once commonplace. A couple of years ago the newspapers gleefully reported that a headteacher had banned children from playing conkers on the grounds of health and safety. But conkers are NOT banned in schools, and neither are donkey rides or putting up bunting banned at summer fetes. School children do not have to wear clip-on ties in case of strangulation, office workers are not prevented from putting up Christmas decorations and the HSE has never said that graduates must refrain from the age-old tradition of throwing their mortar boards in the air, and yet every one of these has been attributed to what the media sneeringly refers to as ‘elf n safety’. But this is interpretation of H&S by people who actually have no idea of the regulations and a fear of being blamed if someone does get hurt. Some blame our litigious society and cite compensation culture and it’s true that many people will try it on, but compensation is only paid when neglect is proven. Media reports habitually sensationalise and omit crucial details so that we don’t get the whole story.
So, when accidents do happen, is it bad luck or carelessness? As someone who spent three years working in health and safety, holds relevant qualifications and was trained in accident investigation procedures, I subscribe to the (proven) theory that the vast majority of accidents (which should not be confused with ‘Acts of God’) are avoidable and are caused by failure to plan, prepare and follow correct procedures such as using the right tools/props, and sheer carelessness. In Britain we have one of the best work safety records in the world and we should be hugely proud of that. Those who roll their eyes and talk of overkill when witnessing someone wearing safety goggles when sawing wood or a harness when cleaning the windows of a two storey house might think it less funny if they’d met the man who lost his sight when a splinter flew into his eye, or the one who fell from a ladder, just a few rungs high and suffered brain damage when his head hit the ground. I met those people when they were invited to give safety talks at the roadshows I helped to run for hundreds of employees.
We talk of certain individuals being accident prone and some researchers believe that such people do exist . It was suggested following a study of nearly 150,000 people (in 15 countries) who had had accidents a few years ago that one in 29 people have a 50% higher risk of accidents. Other studies however, look at co-ordination skills and personality traits. For example, are people with a happy-go-lucky / devil may care attitude less likely to follow procedure ‘to the letter’ than someone who is pernikity, methodical and more precise? The point of investigation is to drill down and look at the underlying causes. What made me think about this right now is that I have had three ‘accidents’ in three days.
And now for the less serious part of the post:
On Saturday I was about to get out of the car at the supermarket when I noticed there was blood running down my hand from index finger to wrist. To describe it as copious would be an exaggeration but the small (surprisingly productive) cut at the base of said finger needed a fair amount of pressure to stop any further flow. I have no idea how I cut it. Fortunately grandmothers often carry baby wipes in the car and I was able to clean up both myself and the steering wheel (which by then I had realised was quite sticky with the red stuff). By the afternoon it had started to feel disproportionately sore to the size of the wound. Think paper cut and you’ll know what I mean. It’s difficult to know what ‘failure’ to attribute this incident to since I didn’t know I’d done it.
On Sunday I burnt my little finger on the oven rack whilst taking a muffin dish out of the oven. I still have a slight scar at the base of my thumb from the burn I received on Christmas Day! I am a bit prone to oven burns. Husband keeps on at me to wear oven gloves and I know he’s right but I’ve always used a tea-towel. If I used the correct tools I wouldn’t get burned.
On Monday I dropped a chair on my foot as I was helping put them out at Slimming World. I now have a bruised big toe and a nail turning purple. It throbbed all night but doesn’t actually feel too uncomfortable today. In this case I can’t think of anything I was doing incorrectly. It just slipped out of my hands and landed on what was between it and the floor – me. Ouch!