Health and Safety for Sofas

28-08-2013 19:33 (0 comments)

Health and Safety for Sofas


Is it me or has the UK has gone barking mad with Health and Safety and Jobsworths? Have we developed a ninja sub-race more concerned about H&S than either Poverty or World Peace?
We are now even pre-warned about imminent dangers from the comfort of our own sofas  – BBC: ‘This programme has flashing lights, an awkward script, clichés, poor acting, foul language and scenes of an adult nature’.
So why show it? Here are some thoughts -though please let me know if I’m turning into another Victor Meldrew.
David Cameron says that Britons should be more like the Germans. An article called ‘The Reluctant Hausfrau’ in The Telegraph* points to an English journalist and his family who moved to Nuremberg to mix with the locals and lead a German lifestyle. Their child was integrated into the local Waldkindergarten where the kids roam around woodland each day all year round, suitably attired for all weathers, climbing trees, using knives and making wood fires, even getting ash on their clothes and faces.  No surprises - and UK H&S take note - there have been no bad falls, lacerations or smoke inhalation dramas to date. So, are German children less prone to accidents than ours?
In January when it snowed, our local junior school allowed the children briefly on to their two-acre field carpeted with every child’s dream of thick virgin white snow but, hear this, they had strict instructions not to throw snowballs at each other. Run that by me?
Ok, so which of us has got it right? Germany is the world’s third largest exporter and it produces a quarter of the whole of the Eurozone’s GDP. Their workforce works less hours than us, far fewer women work at all, in fact they get state benefits to avoid work to be able to bring up the next generation.
On the other hand, how much of UK productivity and workforce is slowed down by over-sensitivity to the discipline of common sense? Last week, I heard that at one of the few remaining UK shipyards, H&S rules the waves - and rules a massive daily overspend on H&S experts. Does that mean that German management has more common sense than we do? We need more red tape, rules and regulators than they do?
So, taking these juxtaposed philosophies, let’s take Sofa Health and Safety – here’s the German version. ‘There is every chance you may fall off your sofa roaring drunk – but who cares? You’ve earned the right’.  ‘If you spill a toxic liquid on your sofa, don’t prat about, buy another one and preferably from English Sofas’. (ok, cheap shot, sorry!)
UK version – ‘Following the recent paper from the eminent Professor George Farnesbarnes on binge drinking and consequent damage to the bank balance, we recommend that you should not get into such a drunken state as to ever fall off your sofa. The furniture is designed to contain you so that falling off, in any event, is unlikely. If however, you should fall off it please, in the first instance, make sure you capture the moment on your smartphone, add it to Facebook, then, call 111 – a new health and safety line to take the burden from the emergency services. Third, if you have been affected physically or psychologically, please call our helpline on 0800 123123 where all your troubles will be sorted by a caring soul answering to the name of Marjorie. Then, finally, remember to sue someone for your own negligence.’
Thank goodness. The voice of reason.


*The Reluctant Hausfrau – Telegraph, 3rd August, BBC2 9pm, 6th August

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