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If you knew you could not fail, what would you try?
2010-06-29: Just a casual observation, but health and safety must be in crisis right now. If one of the world's wealthiest companies, BP, skimped on health and safety measures to save money we are in big, sticky doodah.
AFAIK, aren't you supposed to consider what risks are there and take steps to mitigate them? So .. err, drilling for oil at an unprecedented depth, maybe there's a risk there, let's put together a plan in case there is. Isn't it that simple?
And a chap from the new UK government on TV saying we have to roll back health and safety because .. laughing .. "when was the last time you saw an accident in the office?" Err: one of my employees fell off a faulty chair and chipped a bone in his back, had to be taken off in an ambulance, as it happens. And the office was invaded by angry bees. Oh, and there was a hit and run murder on the next street.
Then there's all the back, neck, and eye strain from over intensive use of computers, along with things like RSI.
The call centre workers who were given tinnitus by an overloud tone over their headsets.
Not to mention the multifarious effects of stress.
I only mention it because I have been responsible for such things in the past. It's taken a long time to get these things taken seriously and business does quite enough externalisation without not bothering about the safety of its workers.
Anyway, Naomi Klein's been writing about BP in the Guardian and I know she's a hero but sometimes I don't like the way she writes. The earth's bleeding indeed.
And to say that BP's $20m budget for R&D into accident prevention and spill response is paltry really isn't fair. AFAIK, companies don't have to do any R&D into health and safety so yes, BP's in the wrong, but credit where credit's due.
But she does bring it home. Here's a thought. Imagine an oil company got permission to drill under the ice cap. That would be similarly new and unprecedented. Imagine the same thing happened there leading to millions of gallons of oil under the ice cap. Now that is the unforgiveable stuff of nightmares.
Apparently Tony Hayward has (maybe 'had') a plaque on his desk that says "If you knew you could not fail, what would you try?". Klein suggests "You act like you know, but you don't know". I do like that.

By John Allsopp
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