Saturday, August 13, 2011

This is Oyiboland: Mind the Gap!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since you left Nigeria for Oyiboland, you must have heard these two magic words Safety and Health.

Not sure? Let me jog your memory:

Those bright red, yellow or blue notices on your walls, entrance or some conspicuous part of the wall in a public place with 'WARNING' and/or emergency numbers in bold and large font? Yeah those ones. You can find them in every public building, the cleaners lovingly polish it weekly and changing it in case it looks faded. This is so you have no excuse for breaking the safety and health rules.

Or can you remember that winter night when in the middle of your deep snooze, you were woken by the sound of a piercing strident alarm. You jumped out of your bed half-assed, grabbed your Intl passport and wallet and ran out into the freezing cold in your pajamas along with other disheveled housemates? Five mins after the alarm goes silent, and a cheery porter tells you ‘Sorry, we were having a fire drill’. Safety and health!

Mind the gaps! At every train stop, in some buses too, a recorded voice warns ‘Mind the gaps between the door and the ground’. You look around and wonder ‘I have eyes na’. Well, safety and health!

You have just booked a conference room for your postgraduate event, the event guy asks for the maximum number of attendees coming to the conference.. Cause you see the room can only take a maximum of 200 people sitting and standing’. Your Nigerian self looks at him remembering overcrowded churches back home, wedding reception venues and you wonder ‘Shuo which one concern you with how many people I have in a room I am paying for? If they want, they can lap themselves na.. No they can’t. Health and Safety!

I told you about our solemn walk on the streets of Durham city centre on Good Friday didnt I?. I recall telling the priest walking next to me, “In Nigeria, high school kids would have acted out the passion of Christ during the procession. Someone would have volunteered to be Jesus carrying a light cross and being flogged (lightly with newspaper or something)”. The priest looked at my innocent face and smiled, “Health and safety dear”.

They are renovating the road to the library and my department. The area being renovated is a stretch of about 100mSq. The area cordoned off with a metal fence is 400m by 400mSq foot. The walk from my house to the library which usually takes a maximum of 8mins now takes 20 mins cause of the detour. Sigh. Health and Safety.

Every public place has designated ‘Fire Exit Doors’, every bus has Fire Exit Windows. I think of Nigerian homes with their maximum security double steel doors, burglary proofs and I shudder….

I remember when I went to assist at my church’s miners’ gala, a parishioner wanted to light the barbeque and he brought out this half-litre bottle of kerosene with bright yellow label screaming  “INFLAMMABLE! HANDLE WITH CARE”. You should have seen how he was cradling it like “oh boy! This is a  dangerous dangerous thing” and he whispered to me “I am not supposed to use this, you know, safety and health”.
Now that got me laughing seriously. The use of generators, kerosene stoves and fuel makes Nigeria a health and safety hazard on a 9.5 scale!!!

Anyway, I do understand the premise of safety and health policies, “healthy work/school environment, healthy staff, improved productivity, lower worker compensation cost, reduced medical expenditure but, health and safety shouldn’t be a substitute for common sense!!

Or how do you explain this:
Or this:
Mary Ubaudi of Madison County, Ill. was a passenger in a car that got into a wreck. She put most of the blame on the deepest pocket available: Mazda Motors, who made the car she was riding in. Ubaudi demanded "in excess of $150,000" from the automaker, claiming it "failed to provide instructions regarding the safe and proper use of a seatbelt."
I concur with the commenter who said ‘I hope Mazda's attorneys make her swear in court that she has never before worn a seatbelt, has never flown on an airliner, and that she's too stupid to figure out how to fasten a seatbelt.

LOL. Got any annoying health and safety policies to share?

Have a great weekend people..or whats left of it.


  1. I know what you mean, you see some warning labels and you wonder if their target audience are 2 year old children.

    I think beyond Heatlth, Environment and Safety, most ot those warning signs and d"dumb" recommendations are put their because of the litigious nature of the people living in those countries.

    I mean if Mazda had included a manual for wearing a seat belt, we would have rolled our eyes...however they have been hit by someone who is taking advantage of the fact that they didn't. *Side eye* at her.

  2. Natural Nigerian makes a valid point about the rise of the litigation culture - what with ads on TV offering to pursue a case for the injured...

    The egg warning label beats them all for pointlessness though.. .

    Thanks for stopping by...

  3. This is funny. Truth is when I was Nigeria, I never used to pay attention to anything perhaps harmful or dangerous, until the danger seem to have happened to someone or a group of people... lol.

    The funny one I've seen is when we went to the beach and they said on a sign, "WARNING: Do not swim between [with erected poles used as boundaries] these poles". Why? They didn't tell us. Although, I don't swim but I would have been curious to know why. lol. Perhaps not by swimming in between the poles though... lol

    - LDP

  4. I see these warnings everywhere. They are on coffee cups, burritos, cutlery. You can't blame the companies though. They have to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits.

  5. Well said!! I understand the reason for health and safety but common, sometime I just want to scream. Fire drill pisses me off.... Imagine a -40 degrees Canadian winter, and then they decide to have a drill.
    Lol...the most hilarious one for me is the trail mix signs "this product may contain nut"'s a giant bowl of all nuts imaginable.

  6., why was i laughing at the comarism with 9ja? sistee, 9jas go IGNORE the signs sef!,,,,,well, becox they know how to sue for anything! so the signs are put up!...but might contain eggs???...#rolling on my laptop with laff'

  7. The 'mind the gaps' statement scream out at me all the time, when I'm in UK. One can't help but take note. Over here, if you like, be forming and don't jump out of the molue. lol

  8. I can't blame them sha. These guys will take any advantage to sue and they mostly win. So sometimes even when I see some dumb looking/sounding warnings, I understand because for them its better to look foolish than to have to pay so much in terms of damages. That common sense we think is common is not so common with everybody o

  9. LWKMD4H o,kai Ginger o I like that egg sign,LMHO o...
    9jafoodie na so o with the "nuts" I'm a naija to the core and as Ibhade said,even road signs are not respected not to talk of "safety and health". Anyway in multinationals,you're forced to adhere but how many people work or go there.... All join for hia o -sign or no sign,we couldn't be bothered :D

    with the "nuts" I'm a naija to the core and as Ibhade said,even road signs are not respected not to talk of "safety and health". Anyway in multinationals,you're forced to adhere but how many people work or go there.... All join for hia o -sign or no sign,we couldn't be bothered :D

  10. I totally agree with Stelzz.
    Litigation is big business over here.

    Re crazy Health & Safety signs:
    I've seen
    - On Ice-cream tub: warning 'Contains Milk' ...DUH!

    - On kid's cough medicine: 'might cause drowsiness, do not drive after taking this medication'.... 5 year old has a driving licence? :))

    - On frozen meal: 'Warning: Defrost before eating' ........Like I would eat frozen lasagne?

    *sigh* Like Stelzz said - common sense is not common

  11. lool my dad is a big safety and health lover so it didnt freak me out a lot when i got here.

  12. LOL they are just try to protect the company not the people..cos oyibo will sue for anything..There was a lady that sued I think victoria secrete for a malfuctioned bra.apparently, it had the wire which came out and hit her eyes, so she sue o as per hazard or so

  13. looool
    this is too funny
    i cant blame them sha
    is because of all the potential lawsuits that can arise if an accident occurs and there was no prior warning
    plus people can be really stupid

  14. LOL!! Like most people have said. It's cos of potential lawsuits. I've heard the story of a woman who sued a restaurant cos there was no warning that her coffee was hot. Most people in England think of how to make their quickest millions after the Lotto has failed them for several years...

  15. Dear people, the warnings can be so annoying if not hilarious. and of course it slows down things cause everyone wants things to be done the 'right' way. I do admit its importance. Some things we take for granted here wont be if you knew the operators are more likely to cut cost than not (theme park rides). On the other hand, there's no cure for stupid. One iron maker put label 'do not iron cloth on your body'.
    Mztizzle- welcome and thanks for commenting. I'm looking for that lotto win too. And if it doesnt work i might try something 'wink' 'wink'.

  16. LOL!! I think a huge part of why they emphasize it so much is cause companies can be sued so easily!! So they have to back stuff up with policies and huge signboards to protect themselves

    Muse Origins Features
    Muse Origins

  17. Truth is that 'elf and safety very often goes too far and treats people like infants but your Mazda driver is a very large part of the reason why.

    If you provide any sort of product or service and some litigious idiot figures out a way to hurt themselves with it that you havent warned them about, you could easily find yourself in court! Even if they lose, the prospect of paying for legal services and/or lost work to attend court is often enough to make people put up every stupid sign they can think of!

    I will say however that there is a middle ground that we Nigerians could also move to in terms of Health and Safety warnings that will see many less stupid or unnecessary injuries and deaths.

    To assume everyone has common sense is often a mistake!



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