Wednesday 27 February 2019

Health and Safety

The kitchen window in our cottage needs replacing. There's some wet rot in one corner of the frame. It was caused by poor manufacture which allowed a place where rain water could accumulate. The cottage is located in a conservation area, so we need to replace it with like for like wooden frame. Another complication is that we'll need to schedule the replacement around guest occupation.

I contacted a local joinery/builder whose premises is just 200 metres away from the cottage. They've been established for at least fifty years as a family firm. They were very polite and helpful, but told me they can no longer make bespoke windows for two reasons. Firstly they'd have to be members of FENSA and secondly for "Health and Safety" reasons they are no longer permitted to use the wood machinery tools installed at their premises. 

Apparently the HSE visited them and demanded they only operated machinery which had automatic immediate braking features. These type of machines immediately stop the machine if flesh comes in contact with the blade. I could see their existing machinery, a planer/thicknesser, a table saw and a band saw. It was all heavy duty industrial equipment. Even though the company had a good safety record and all of their team (6) were experienced and trained craftsmen, they had to stop using the machinery. They'd not had any earlier accidents.  The bureaucrats insisted on them purchasing the new machines at the cost of many thousands of pounds, for no additional profits. The fines arising from accidents in the work place, causing bruising, are large! For example £150K in this case.

The company decided to lay off most of their team and to stop performing any joinery work. What a waste of skills, caused by overarching officialdom who computed any risk as an absolute predictor of injury. If the company had gone against the HSE instructions it would have invalidated their business insurance. There's no compensation for loss of business and no real appeal against the HSE demands.

Below is a video clip of the type of activities where the HSE would better spend its time.

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