This week, as I drove into town, I saw a man out for exercise. He was walking on the footpath, as he normally does, in his walking shoes, shorts, cap and his fluorescent yellow tunic. It was nine o'clock in the morning on a summer's day, and I was glad to be alive. He was obviously petrified of dying.
The street sweepers in town wear "fluoro" gear while they sweep the footpaths and the gutters. They don't wear the gear because they want to or feel the need to, but because they have been told by superiors that they must. What is it that makes those in the employment of the council more likely to be run over than the hundreds of pedestrians moving from shop to shop and crossing the street and who get about naked of fluorescent clothing?
I was MC at a wedding on the weekend and given the house health and safety card to read out to all guests prior to the arrival of bride and groom. No doubt the reading of this list of provisions has been confirmed by the health and safety plan for this most prestigious of venues on the advice of a health and safety expert charging an hourly rate that would make Donald Trump blush.
One of the rules was to tell guests who may get drunk and relieve themselves in the garden that there is a steep bank and they should be careful not to fall down it. Another rule was that drinking on the dance floor and dancing without shoes are banned because someone dancing barefoot had stepped on a broken glass previously. Another was to inform guests that moving off the carpet on to a wooden floor is also a hazard and they should be careful when moving between rooms.
It seems that none of us can be trusted to make decisions these days about our own safety, and this is based not on the fact that accidents have happened and people have been hurt, but the fear of prosecution pursuant to health and safety legislation.
I remind people that nobody in New Zealand can be sued for personal injury by the victim since the Accident Compensation Legislation of 1974. So the big fear driving this ridiculous pre-emptive warnings addiction is a fear of the Government prosecuting people for the dumb or absent-minded behaviour of ordinary New Zealanders.
Why, when getting on a plane, do I have to be reminded that I need to be careful when opening a locker because things might fall out? Why do I need to be told that the toilet is at the front or back of the plane? It cannot possibly be anywhere else! Why do I need to be told where the toilet is at all? At just over 60 years of age it is decades since I have peed my pants. When I need to go, I just discreetly look round or ask somebody who looks like they will know. The general public walk around willy-nilly without a safety briefing and yet the whole world does not smell like urine.
I know of a team of adult local government officials visiting a vacant building site recently, who were given safety vests to wear while they were on site. The site was a flat piece of ground with nothing inside the 2.4m perimeter fence.
Clipboard Nazis are making a killing giving fraudulent advice to the gullible about their liability under health and safety legislation.
They have misinterpreted the risk and made assumptions on the likelihood of prosecution to keep clients afraid.
As a result, we see a community wallpapered with fluorescent pink, orange and yellow figures wearing bump hats, steel-caps and safety glasses, thinking they are automatically immune from injury.
These worry-warts are closely related to the killjoys who removed the rope swing from Mosquito Point, as lamented by Fred Frederikse last week, the idiots who remove huts and bridges from the back-country, schools that banned bullrush, others who prohibited lolly scrambles and those who litter the roadside with orange cones and leave them there long after the hazard has been removed.
We're training up a nation of people who demand to have somebody to blame for their own stupidity.