Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Health and Safety.

Bureaucrats are constantly drawing criticism for their alleged over-concern with safety. In June, for instance the Royal Mail notified businesses on a street in Doncaster that it would no longer deliver to them on rainy days because the street was too slippery. (One clumsy postman had slipped and fallen.) 

Makes you wonder in what way CART would and will react to such an issue. We know that British Waterways was always had a knee jerk reaction to all such issues. The square bollards and the specially designed and installed "safety improvements" at locks that could decapitate a boater are famous examples. 

In May, the Somerset County Council ordered the removal of a sign advertising an upcoming public fundraiser on the ground that someone might bump into it at night. The event organizer pointed out that the particular sign was stuck in the grass directly in front of a tree, which was likely equally hard to see in darkness.

Simon Burgess died in a pond in Gosport, after he apparently suffered an epileptic seizure while feeding swans, in water about three feet deep. Fire fighters were called, but the first one to arrive remained on shore, explaining that he had been trained only for "ankle deep" water and would have to await a colleague trained in "chest high" water. 

The inquest was told that fire fighters arrived at the scene within five minutes of a 999 call being made. Also that PC Tony Jones volunteered to wade into the lake but was ordered not to by his control room. The court was told that  fire fighter Nicholls was also following a policy, not to enter water more than "half a boot" deep unless it was a life-critical situation. This was obviously not a life critical situation.

Paramedic Robert Wallace also suggested he should enter the water, but did not when Mr Nicholls the firefighter asked where his safety equipment was. Mr Burgess was eventually retrieved from the water 37 minutes after the 999 call was made and was pronounced dead at hospital.

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "Let us be clear, the decisions taken at the Walpole Lake incident had nothing to do with health and safety or the depth of the water. That person was showing no visible signs of life. Based on this assessment, they prepared for the arrival of one of the service's specialist water rescue unit to undertake a dignified retrieval of the individual from the water. Our officers and staff clearly stated, that if they saw any signs of life and the individual could be saved, they would have gone in to the water and followed rescue procedures."

Mr Burgess's father, David, said: "We will never know if Simon could have been saved, if he had been pulled from the water as soon as the emergency services arrived on the scene. When a loved one is involved in an incident like this, you can only hope that everything possible is done to save them regardless of how small the chances of success are."


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