Archive for October, 2010

Rod, my Best Mate

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

I wonder if m’colleague Rod will be at work tomorrow?

Those of you who follow the Euromillions lottery will know that a couple of weeks back there was a huge win – something like £180 million – that went unclaimed for a while. Rod – my all time best mate – had a ticket which he hadn’t checked.

Last Wednesday, he went home planning to check his ticket that night. On Wednesday evening, the news reported that the prize had been claimed. On Thursday Rod phoned in sick and we haven’t seen him since.

Several of Rod’s colleagues are currently vying for position as his bestest buddy.


Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Cards and pressies with m’darling PF(WILVM) and MiniFred.

A surprise visit from m’dear chums Plankton and Shrimp.

Dinner with my Mum and PF.

More cards and presents, birthday texts and Facebook messages

A birthday phone call.

An AMAZING birthday cake :-)

Birthday wine (and more cake…)

And we won a tenner on the lottery :-)


Friday, October 15th, 2010

Lord Young’s long-promised review of Health and Safety in the UK has been published. If you’re interested, you can download your very own copy here.

It could be worse – the feared “bonfire of the legislation” fails to appear, replaced by a recommendation that

The current raft of health and safety regulations should be consolidated into a single set of accessible regulations

(Page 40)

I’m not actually sure what that means – the normal meaning of the word “accessible” makes no sense in that sentence – but I’m guessing that he wants to replace the current laws with new ones that say the same things in more easily understood ways.

Much of the report focusses on regulation of the “no win no fee” lawyers and the insurance industry to remove fear of the “compensaition culture”, and I’m all in favour of that, as long as a channel remains by which people who’ve been harmed by the genuine uncaring negligence of others can be given recompense. But whatever the Daily Mail might say, Health and Safety isn’t about fighting compensation claims, so lets move on.

Regulation of the Health and Safety profession is a key point:

Professionalise health and safety consultants with a qualification requirement that all consultants should be accredited to professional bodies…

Page 15

This is something the profession itself has been asking for for years, although we’re still squabbling among ourselves about how the accreditation will work: the trouble is, Health and Safety is such a wide subject that no one person is ever going to be universally competent, so you’ll end up with people accredited by the category of what they can cover: You could end up with an accreditation scheme so complex that potential employers can’t use it – which is exactly where we are now, with a quaification/experience framework that is completely meaningful and adequate – to the tiny minority of people who understand it. Meanwhile we have potential employers specifying “NEBOSH Qualified” and thinking that they’re going to get a Health and Safety version of a “Universal Soldier”, not realising that there are currently at least eight different NEBOSH qualifications, no single one of which demonstrates even a reasonable level of competence in any except the most basic areas.

I’d feel more confident that this was likely to happen under the present government if Michael Clapham’s Early Day Motion of 2007, asking for exactly this sort of regulation, had received the support of at least one Conservative MP.

He seems to have a hangup with risk assessment – for example his recommendation

Simplify the risk assessment procedure for low hazard workplaces…

Everywhere that Health and Safety law requires a risk assessment, it specifies that it should be Suitable and Sufficient and address significant hazards: so we already seem to be specifying that a low hazard workplace can have simple assessments (or if it’s really low hazard, no assessment at all). More worrying is his assertion that the law should

Exempt employers from risk assessments for employees working from home in a low hazard environment

So there you are, home-based workers – you can use your computer workstation until you’re crippled with RSI (which Young seems to consider on page 27 a low-impact hazard), and your employer can claim they didn’t know it was likely to happen.

Even more worryingly, he wants to

Simplify the process that schools and similar organisations undertake before taking children on trips


Introduce a single consent form that covers all activities a child may undertake during his or her time at a school

(both page 37)

Abolish the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, and replace licensing with a Code of Practice

(page 36)

Google “Lyme Bay Tragedy” for an example of why that’s NOT a good idea.

So, the consent form that you sign before your 12-year-old goes on the coach trip to the Science Museum, will cover them for the rock climbing trip in four years time. You don’t yet know the teacher who’ll lead that trip, or how the trip’ll be planned…and the activity leader won’t have necessarily had any formal test of competence!

There are some worrying inaccuracies which, minor in themselves, raise concerns about the amount of care taken over the whole report:

…hence the example of the restaurant that banned toothpicks…

…which never happened, except in Daily Mail-land

…officials are giving poor advice to organisations and individuals, who are in turn prevented from running an event (for example a school fete)…

Make my day – give me a reliable reference for a school fete cancelled on safety grounds.

Currently where an employee is absent from work for three days following an accident or injury at work, a RIDDOR form is required

No. A RIDDOR is required if an employee is unfit for normal duties for three days following an accident or injury at work. So they could be at work on light duties, and the rules would still apply. His Lordship wants to increase the reporting time to seven days – which will decrease the number of reports, but isn’t likely to have any other effect.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations Approved Code of Practice is a legally enforceable guide for business

No it isn’t. An ACoP is by definition not legally enforceable of itself. It’s a statement that “if you do this you’ll definitely be compliant”, but it isn’t by itself enforceable .

So, it’s all a bit mediocre: not as bad as I feared or as good as I hoped. I predict that for most workplaces the impact will be minimal.


Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I thought I might tell you about a wheeze I played on m’colleague Jerry the other day.

Jerry was checking his pockets to see if he had 60p in change to get a chocolate bar from the vending machine. He had 56p, which he described as annoyingly tantalisingly close. I rooted out my change and started sorting through it, and Jerry said “aw mate, that’s really kind”. I gave him 3p and said “there, you’re even more tantalisingly close now!”

I should add that after a good giggle, I did give him the extra penny :-)

That’s Entertainment

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

An exciting weekend of entertainment-stylee things.

On Friday, PF(WILVM) and I had free tickets to go to Television Centre for a recording of one of our favourite comedies, Not Going Out. We travelled up on the train – both of us travelling free, thanks to my bonus tickets that I get with my annual season ticket – and PF had found us an hotel on, to save coming back really late. The show was great fun, and they even gave us free beer just for being there!

On Saturday we’d decided to see a show before we came back, which would have cost us hardly anything as I won a load of theatre tokens in a competition recently. Next time I’ll actually take the tokens with me, but we decided to go anyway! We reduced the “What’s On” guide to a shortlist of two, and set off for the discount ticket booth in Leicester Square. They only had expensive tickets for our first choice, and nothing at all for our second, so we set off to walk to the theatre where our first choice was, to see what they could do.

By coincidence, on the way we passed the theatre showing our second choice: We decided to see what they could do for us, and they offered us amazing seats for a very good price – and that’s how we came to see Deathtrap. Which was an excellent show, and PF thoroughly enjoyed the set and the staging (and the show itself of course!).

And then we came home on the train, arriving just in time for X Factor! I read my book…


Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Crumbs, how long since I last blogged?

Well I haven’t been idle – I’ve visited Jenny and Chris and mended Jenny’s blog (you’ll notice how much she’s written since then ;-) ), and also visited our south Wales office: I’ve visited the ancestral mansion of my own lovely Purple Fred (whom I love very much) where we had a lovely weekend celebrating someone’s birthday.

I’ve also been struggling with some computer problems – my antivirus software warned of a trojan, and it took a couple of evenings work to get rid of it – combined with a couple of late nights which meant that by the time I got in, I couldn’t be bothered to deal with it, and it all delayed things.

I’d like to say that blogging will now return to normal service, but I’m not that confident!