Thursday, 23 August 2012

Where the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many

A few days ago I found myself passing through a town where I had not been for several years. It brought back memories of my previous visit. On that visit, while working for another company at the time, I was there to do a site survey of a commercial premises.

The public areas of the premises were fine and well maintained, but when I went into the staff only areas, the situation was almost unbelievable. In fact it was the closest thing to a potential 'deathtrap' I have seen. Just a few of my observations:
- No means of escape in case of fire, access was through a steel clad door which if locked could only be opened from the outside.
- Pre WWII electrical wiring and switches, some of which had signs warning of electrocution if touched.
- Floor boards so rotten that they could not support your weight.
And there was more, and yes I am being totally serious.

These issues were brought to the attention of the person responsible for not just this site but several others and his response was equally amazing. In short, he wasn't interested, if there was an accident then that was an insurance issue. He did not have the budget to do a renovation on the building and as regards personal risk (legal) he was willing to take a chance. Or in his words, if it goes really wrong, "I'll be long gone before they get me into court".

Frightening isn't it!

You might ask what about the Health & Safety authorities, that question by the time I moved on to start my own business was still unanswered.

Sure this is an extreme case or is it? You the reader may we well aware of a similar situations.
I have been on many sites and there have been a few really questionable ones in relation to H&S. The situation has been similar where the 'higher authority' just doesn't for various reasons (usually budget) want to do anything about it. So what gives these people the right to make fundamental decisions about the lives and health of others?

Surely, in a civilised and properly run company, in terms of health and safety - the needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the one.

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