Posts Tagged ‘Occupational Health and Safety’

Yeah, okay it’s been awhile since I wrote here. I have been doing a fair amount of writing at my job, and to be honest, the last thing I want to do when I get home is write another thousand or so words. However, the time is now right for me to update my blog. There is a growing scourge of stupidity that has me concerned. Actually, it’s not really stupidity; it’s more anti-stupidity whose implications may not be known for some time to come. I’m talking at the evolutionary level here.

I am oft ranting about road works and the way they inconvenience road users of all varieties. Road works are a necessary evil. They are supposed to keep road maintenance up to date and make sure our journeys are smooth and hassle free. More often than not the reverse is true. I cannot remember a time in the last ten years that there were no works being conducted on the Western Ring Road. Monash Freeway, same problem. Surely by now there is someone who understands the, seemingly, vague notion that road works should be done quickly and quietly with the least amount of fuss caused to all. Alas, it appears that this is not the case and I lay most of the blame at the feet of Occupational Health and Safety.

Recently I commented to friends that, as a species, the human race peaked sometime in the 70’s. Now, for the most part, we seem to be just getting fatter, stupider and spend most of our time complaining about the weather. Recent observations have done nothing but confirm my thinking. For example, I live near a couple of sets of railroad tracks. A little while ago the people who are in charge of the railroads decided that work needed to be done.

The works were being conducted about 300 to 400 metres away from the nearest stretch of road which crossed the tracks in the form of a level crossing. Surely the reasonable person would look at the situation and ask themselves, “Is the location of these works likely to place the workers in danger?” The answer should really have been, “No, the workers are far enough from the actual roadway that any risk of danger is minimal at worst”, and then gotten on with the job. But, no, what they had to do was lower the speed limit to 40km/h in both directions for about 500 metres and make a man, who held up one of those ‘Stop’ and ‘Slow’ signs, stand on the footpath.

I asked one of the guys what the deal with the lower speed limit was and he said that because they were ‘near’ the road that the speed limit signs had to go up. Also, because they had to stop the traffic to let trucks in and out the men had to be there with their rotating signs. “How many trucks do they let in and out?” I asked. “Oh about three or four a day”, he replied. “Are they often standing on the road?” I asked. “No, not really. Probably only twenty minutes a day. They’re normally standing on what would be the footpath if one was there.” So why are we slowing down to 40 km/h for almost a kilometre? These workers spent most of their time holding signs for trucks that were rarely there, and, for most of that they were on the ‘footpath’. What makes them different from ordinary pedestrians? Reflective vests aside.

Another act of recent anti-stupidity is the area surrounding the, ‘currently under construction’, Point Cook train station. Running alongside the construction site is the Princes Freeway, which has been lowered to 80/h in the affected area despite no construction being done near or on the affected road. It matters little though because it appears that everyone is of similar thinking to me and refusing to slow down. So, what’s the point of it? Apart from the black plastic that, for some unknown reason, has been put up on the roadway shoulder there is no change to the actual road conditions. It all comes down to well-meaning but practically stupid Work Safety laws.

Now to the crux of the matter and I ask you to hang on here because I may touch a few nerves. Work Safety laws are essentially in place to stop stupid people dying in avoidable accidents. Have you seen the latest commercial where two blokes are on the roof without scaffolding and safety harnesses and everyone gets upset? Then the smartest bloke there says something similar to, “But it’s only a twenty minute job!” Fair point, right? Then the Work Safe lady gets angry, feels the need to justify her position and asserts her authority. The end result is that scaffolding gets erected. Now I don’t know anything about scaffolding and how long it takes to put up and bring down but I’m pretty sure that it takes longer than twenty minutes. A twenty minute job suddenly turns into a half, or even full, day. That time is never coming back, it’s gone forever. Safety is becoming an ever increasing scourge on our lives. It’s not just for construction sites anymore. There are warning labels on everything, including the Nintendo Wii for frig’s sake.

Now, if you’re too stupid to pay attention to what you are doing when working on a roof, then maybe, life is not for you. Over the last several billion years evolution has done a really good job of making sure that only the strongest genetic lines survived. I wonder now whether we’re working hard to undermine the good work evolution has done. The human race has done a great many things to be rid of other things which could be viewed as a natural enemy. We have built stronger homes to stop predators. We have advanced medical science and either eradicated, or created vaccines for deadly and debilitating diseases. Now we’re trying to save the stupids.

I refuse to accept that spending time and money to save stupid people is going to be worthwhile. During our childhood, most of us will try stupid things. We keep doing these things until it goes wrong. Most of us then learn a lesson from this mistake but, some of us don’t. By all means, cry at the funeral, but really we should be celebrating the fact that his or her genes have left the pool forever.

We have made the decision, as a species, to treat genetic diseases rather than cut them out, root and branch. That’s fine, but stupidity should not, in any form, be tolerated. Workplace accidents, along with other ‘life skills tests’, used to be a great way of eradicating the stupid gene. Now, for some reason, we are protecting these people. This does nothing for anyone. All it does is ensure that in the future; every activity we undertake will have to be performed wearing a reflective vest, while a Safety Officer watches on. Should make bedroom activities a hoot.