Monday, January 01, 2007

Health & Safety: marching forward into 2007

I picked up the following gem at a New Year’s Eve party. Some builders I know are carrying out renovation work on a Cambridgeshire church. They put a Portaloo on site and had access to a cold tap, but planned to use the church itself for meals and site office. An overly-concerned parishioner took a dim view of this and sent a complaint to the Heath and Safety Executive, who responded by threatening to close the site down. It breached Health & Safety legislation.

What could be wrong? Were men working off inadequate scaffolding? Were roofers scaling the tower without harnesses? No, nothing exciting like that. The problem was that the site didn’t meet the modern health and safety standards. There should have been a changing room where the workers had access to hot and cold water. And there had to be a proper flushing loo, not a chemical toilet.

The wonderful irony is that the job description involved installing a flushing, drain connected toilet into the church for the very first time in its history. Apparently this wasn’t good enough for Health & Safety; according to the current rulebook, they should have first installed a temporary flushing loo before they began work on the permanent one.

Here’s hoping the New Year produces a few more bizarre construction stories!

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