Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Health And Safety

During my last contract, I was obliged to complete a health and safety assessment at work. What a complete waste of time.

It provided me with no new information, only confirmation that the whole health and safety industry serves two purposes, neither of them remotely aligned with the purpose they claim to serve. Those two purposes are job creation and arse-covering. The former serves those who work within the health and safety industry. The latter serves the employer.

The course assessment at the end of the online course that I was obliged to do produced a list of changes that I needed to make to improve my work environment. If for any reason I failed to implement these changes, I would be in no position to sue the employer because, hey, they had made the appropriate recommendations. Never mind that in most work places, it isn't possible for me to set up a desk to conform to all the rules.

One problem that I have with all of this is the implicit sexism within all the courses. They go to great pains to ensure that if you're little, and your legs dangle, then there is a way you can still get into the officially recommended position at a desk. They make no such provision for those of us who are taller. If I adjust my seat to the recommended height, I can't get my legs under my desk. I've only ever once worked in a place which had desks of adjustable height, and most people didn't bother adjusting them.

I say implicitly sexist because a lot of the "information" on these courses is very obviously based on years old, outdated research from an era when the only people sitting at the desk working a keyboard were female secretaries. Hence the emphasis on what to do if you're too short (women are generally shorter than men), and little or no emphasis on what to do if you are too tall, since the men are always away from their desks doing the real work of business and enterprise. Apparently.


David said...

I understand you want some table leg extensions!

BTW, I would categorise this more as an ergonomic issue than "health and safety" and I think most terminal workers would benefit from some basic ergonomic instruction. I know I have, and I always set up my working environment properly.

I agree that in most firms H&S is a waste of time and a way to avoid litigation.

However, I have worked in the oil industry where H&S is an essential part of day-to-day operations in the field, where dangers abound.


Brian Sibley said...

Well, lovey, you'll just have to get away from your desk and start "doing the real work of business and enterprise." ;->

Al said...

I'm in the same boat at the moment. We have a new DBA in the team, who had a 'special' desk in his previous role, and since he was sitting next to me, and they were paying for the outsourced 'desk' company to come in and raise his new desk, I asked if I could have mine done at the same time (save money and all that). Apparently I can't do this without organising a workplace assesment, where some numpty tells me such myths as my monitor should be level with the top of my head and that I should sit upright and like a robot at my desk, all of which are not true and have been turned into professional urban myths by these very people.

Da Nator said...

Good to see you blogging again. All the bureaucracy is ridiculous and why can things be more adjustable. Everyone should have to sit on those big inflatable balls, IMHO. They're good for the spine and it solves any problems of being too fat for the chair arms, too.

Heh, I said "sit on big balls."

Qenny said...

david: when did you work in the oil industry, love? I know there are many places where H&S is useful and important, but the inclusion of ergonomic arse-covering to avoid office workings creating vacuous no-win/no-fee court cases over their carpal tunnel is just a bit too much

brian: I'm currently trying to get back to a desk so that I can do some of that!

al: I think go with da nator's suggestion, and get a bit swiss ball.

And, da nator, I won't tell anyone about your kink for sitting on balls.