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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Unsure of current legislation?

Aren’t we all?

I always knew there was money being made by various people, out of all this Health and Safety activity there has recently been. Someone, I have long been muttering to myself, is making a fortune printing all these signs. And there are “consultants” making a fine living explaining all the legal complications involved. Big building contractors, in particular, have lots of money and no huge public popularity, and if they break even one letter of one of these laws I imagine it can get very expensive.

This snap, taken a fortnight ago during that canal trip I went on, confirms my suspicions:


Another Van of the Times, to put beside this earlier one.

It seems that these guys began just selling legally mandated fire extinguishers, but you get the feeling that they are now branching out, don’t you? The company name certainly says to me that they always saw fire extinguishers as their way into a much bigger market, which they knew was getting bigger all the time.

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8 comments to Unsure of current legislation?

  • You think to yourself: “you can’t make up stuff like that” – but then someone actually does.

  • I’m in the forklift trade; and in my experience the core of ‘real’ legislation in the realm of H&S tends to be surrounded by a bubble of ‘assumed’ regulation; pushed by strong implication by firms such as that pictured.
    An example would be the much fretted about “forklift license”. In popular (industrial) belief there is a law that says that anyone who drives a forklift truck MUST hold a license to do so, issued by one of a number of private licensing authorities. Such a license must be ‘refreshed’ every so many years, and only applies to a subset of forklifts, etc etc.
    In fact, the only applicable law states that operators must be ‘trained’, which could include the foreman asking “do you know how to drive this thing, boyo?”. The whole ‘licensing system’ is an invention of the companies that provide the training; and while not necessarily a bad idea (and good for demonstrating a firm’s attitude to H&S come an investigation) it is emphatically NOT legally required.
    This belief leads many thousands of small operators worrying about whether their drivers are ‘licensed’, if the licenses have expired etc etc for a forklift that might be used for an hour a day.
    I can only assume that a similar situation exists with the other branches of health and safety too.

  • Samsam von Virginia

    In the US there are about a dozen “Employee Notice” posters that are required to be posted prominently in the workplace. They are available as free downloads from the Department of Labor in a multitude of languages.

    This doesn’t stop a number of companies from sending threatening letters telling businesses they are not in compliance with the law because they haven’t purchased the posters from THEM.

    I always print out and post the Russian and Korean versions because they look cool.

  • llamas

    It’s just my observation, but it seems to me that many workplace “Health and Safety” folks in the US are completely and glorously free of any knowledge at all about actual workplace safety, conditions or operations, and that this is a deliberate ignorance on their part.

    I could be wrong, but my read on this is that many of these people see their role primarily as administrators, merely recording and tracking H&S matters and managing their resolution by a host of outsiders and consutants.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have found myself knowing far more about the matter at hand than the H&S muppet assigned to address the issue, from overhead lifting to radionucleide disposal.

    I once had to dispose properly of an ESD dissapation device containing a small amount of an alpha-particle emitter, and the H&S womble – fully-accredited in Radiaocative Materials Disposal, mind you – insisted that the device had to be wrapped and sealed in lead foil before she would accept it for disposal. I knew that a cardboard box would absorb any radiation that this thing could possibly emit, but no, that was what it said in her book and she knew no more about radiation emissions than that. I see this sort of check-the-box attitude a lot among the H&S cadre.



  • Broadly speaking, you’re right. If that van was close to the canal, however, it may have been delivering to boats. I own a narrow boat, and it has 30 feet of interior space, requiring 3 fire extinguishers [one per ten feet] to pass its Boat Safety Certificate, a kind of safety MOT for the canals. This has always been the case, and is incredibly sensible, as fires on boats are invariably fatal.

  • Jerry

    ‘as fires on boats are invariably fatal’

    Please tell me that was facetious.

    If not, then dead wrong, no pun intended.

  • Stonyground

    It appears to me that if your workshop is pretty much free from hazards then the H&S inspector has to find something, anything, that they can put down as a recommendation. Presumably too many places of work being given an absolute clean bill of health would lead to questions about whether so many inspectors and inspections were actually needed. As a result we have had a silent air compressor that might damage our hearing, magnolia wall paint that might cause headaches, and making sure that our grindstone has a sign saying ‘goggles must be worn’ even though no one in the place would dream of using the grindstone without wearing goggles.

  • Snag

    Parked under a tree, bit dangerous that.