As much as I am a great believer and supporter of lifting a pint or two in support of our great but threatened institution – the English pub – there is one aspect that can drive one to distraction.
It is that individual that seems to have a view on every conceivable subject on Earth and beyond it. No, not the London cabbie (although it often seems he or she fits the bill) – it’s the pub bore. How often have your eyes glazed over as your ears are bombarded with the never ending judgements on whether there really is climate change, or threatening to build a second Hadrian’s Wall if the Jocks decide to vote for independence?
The volume really gets turned up when the subject of health and safety gets broached. All kinds of amazing stories get regurgitated, often embellished and told as gospel. “I kid you not” and a knowing wink will follow to conclude the ‘discussion’.
And talking about ‘kid’ brings us to what is always mentioned – conkers and how it was banned because of health and safety concerns. This particular story goes back to 2007 when a head teacher decided children should wear safety goggles to play conkers. As the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) reported: ‘Subsequently, some schools appear to have banned conkers on ‘health and safety’ grounds or made children wear goggles, or even padded gloves!’ What was its own conclusion? ‘Realistically the risk from playing conkers is incredibly low and just not worth bothering about. If kids deliberately hit each other over the head with conkers, that’s a discipline issue, not health and safety.’
The list that can be found on the HSE website, also covers our sector. Case 305 dealt with the issue of where a low level hot water dispenser for wheelchair users was refused on health and safety grounds. The HSE panel’s ruling was quite damning: ‘There are no health and safety reasons which would prevent the installation of a hot water facility. In fact the panel is bemused at how a project which set out to improve access for disabled staff has singularly failed to meet its objective – leaving users having to stand to get to a hot water supply. Poor excuses don’t hold water – hot or cold!’
Health and safety regulations may seem easy targets for the pub bore but the bulk of the work by HSE and others involved in the subject, has led to substantial reductions in injuries and fatalities in the workplace and at home.
Mind you, should you prefer to take the side of the pub bore, I’m all ears, but please don’t mind the sight of protruding plugs from them.
Caption How myths grow – conkers took on a whole new threat in 2007 when a school head teacher thought there was a health and safety issue