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:
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.