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BRITARCH  April 2012

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Subject:

Re: Risk Assessments Was Heavy Metals

From:

Michael Haseler <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 15:38:58 +0100

Content-Type:

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On 18/04/2012 14:45, David Walland wrote:
> While I think that Michael is over-stating the case in degree, in principle
> I do agree with a lot of what he says.  But Michael, you are still mixing
> up H&S and Insurance.
David,

you put it much better than me!

A while ago I was organising a working camp on a Scout site. When I 
started doing the risk assessments - I realised that I had no idea where 
the main risks were and was just imagining risk where there was probably 
none, so I began by looking for statistics of accidents that had 
happened during similar activities. In other words, I wanted to base my 
risk assessment on evidence and not opinion (post-processional?) I 
wanted to know what accidents had happened in the past, not only in our 
own organisation but in all similar organisations.

Approaching the Scout association insurances, I learnt that they had no 
data on what accidents had happened. ... the short story is that we 
created a database for them to use so they would have the statistics but 
for political reasons it was not taken up by the Scouts but it was taken 
up by the guides - who I realised had a much more pragmatic attitude to 
risk. (It is still available if anyone else wants a copy)

Unfortunately - there was no real data on actual accidents (and several 
members worked for the H&SE), but I did learn from the insurer that the 
main cause of accidents in campsites was boiling water. In other words, 
I had been worrying about the use of power tools, fires, axes, spades, 
etc. etc. (ALL THE MANLY THINGS) and it turned out the serious life 
threatening/changing accidents that had been occurring was in the 
kitchen & boiling water.

But ....looking at the statistics I could find ...  the most dangerous 
activity on any camp .... is driving there!!!

At which point I realised that the most dangerous things in life are the 
things most people take for granted, the one people never do risk 
assessment on ... motor cars and hot water! In other words, all the risk 
assessments that had previously been done .... were almost a complete 
waste of time because none of them covered the main threats.

The main to ensure health and safety is not ridiculous risk assessments 
... it is to have people with the rights skills, experience & attitude 
(and no alcohol ... which is the cause of many accidents in a related 
organisation)

Mike
> I work voluntarily using my many years experience to assist in writing Risk
> Assessments and safety rules for my church and giving safety advice and PAT
> testing for local artists (my wife is a professional artist).  In order to
> do this, I necessarily have to write a very tight agreement with these
> people, clarifying *exactly* the limits of my responsibility for the
> quality of advice I give.  Between Insurance and "No win no fee", I could
> easily find myself being sued, simply because I hadn't done this, when my
> advice was not taken or not followed and someone was hurt or damage caused
> by this.
>
> *However*, and this is a big however in the wider H&S scheme of things,
> there is documented proof of the efficacity of risk assessment in making
> significant reductions in accidents when properly done.  Even simple
> training in CPR has been proved to reduce the number of accidents in a
> community (I actually did the data reduction for this study in the late
> 1970s while taking my degree).
>
> So what we need really is to use the valuable parts of *real* H&S whilst
> minimising the clap-trap and wastefulness of all this extraneous stuff.  I
> worked for most of my life primarily in Radiation Safety in Universities.
> Like all too many of my ex-colleagues, I had a major breakdown in large
> part occasioned by the vast amount of unnecessary and invalid "work"
> required of me when I could have been using my time usefully actually
> helping get work done - safely.
>
> So don't, please, throw baby out with bathwater...
>
> Regards
>
> David Walland
>
> On 18 April 2012 13:45, Michael Haseler<[log in to unmask]>  wrote:
>
>> On 17/04/2012 13:10, Nick Boldrini wrote:
>>
>>> The gap might be "self funded" community work, but as David says ignore
>>> this at your peril.
>>>
>> It would be more accurate to say: "pay this any heed at your peril",
>> because as soon as community/volunteers start listening to this kind of
>> nonsense they find that they simply cannot afford to volunteer.
>>
>> ... which is actually the intention!!!
>>
>> We have seen this nonsense being used to stop volunteers doing for free
>> things like rewiring scout halls let alone their own homes. (Almost no
>> fires are attributed to wiring in the UK ... almost all fires are due to
>> faulty appliances like washing machines!!!)
>>
>> There is a suspicion in medicine that some auto-immune diseases are caused
>> because our modern environment is too clean, and the immune system which
>> evolved to fight infection keeps ramping up, increasing its response in the
>> expectation that it isn't finding infection because it is too insensitive,
>> until it over sensitised.
>>
>> I think we have a similar "social illness" ... which is that we as humans
>> evolved in an environment with real danger ... wolves, marauding Normans,
>> etc. We therefore are atuned to "the shadow lurking" in our environment
>> .... that shadow used to be something we should fear, these days, there is
>> so little to fear that we get fixated by the smallest possible risk and
>> blow it out of proportion rather like an allergy.
>>
>> In other words, we take the absolutely minimal risk of heavy metal, and
>> because this is the only risk we can see in our lives, we assign it the
>> "maximum response" or maximum attention, which would only be appropriate if
>> it were some kind of predator lurking on the woodland edge.
>>
>> In other words, we have an entirely irrational response to all sorts of
>> risk ... because we have not evolved to live in such a risk free
>> environment!
>>
>> Mike
>>

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