To change a lightbulb…

health and safety madnessI was in the UK last week, in Horsham (West Sussex, England), and came upon what can only be described as the biggest fookin’ waste of money and manpower you could imagine.

A classic example of a brain-dead local council’s woefully wasteful practices, totally oblivious to the need for streamlining and efficiency, at a time when the government is making such swingeing cuts in the public sector.

What we had, basically, was a man servicing, or cleaning, or changing bulbs in the street lights. Something that should have entailed a cherry-picker, a couple of operatives and a line of cones.   

Not the local council though. No, somebody there obviously thought the job would be better served by three bloody-great diversion trucks, similar to the picture here, a cherry-picker and a Transit van.

So, throughout the course of the whole job, you’ve got one guy up in the air doing the actual work, one guy on the ground guarding the cherry-picker, and four guys sitting on their arses in nice warm trucks with the engines running.

Why do you need three big trucks, at 50 metre intervals, with big yellow flashing lights and arrows, to guard a man changing a light bulb? And what was the Transit van doing there? Maybe it was to carry the lunches, or somewhere for the light bulb man to sit when he got a bit stressed from being up that high?

If it wasn’t so bloody typical of the bureaucratic, wasteful, nannying, politically correct and health-and-safety obsessiveness of all government-run entities, or the litigious state of the UK in general, it would be laughable. And they wonder why this country’s in the state it’s in.

How it’s done in Spain

Compare that to the almost identical scenario we came across on our way back from the airport to our house in Spain. We had a cherry-picker doing some overhead work at the entrance to the Marbella tunnel on the A7, which is a dual carriageway with a speed limit of 120kph (about 75mph).

We had a warning triangle (like the ones you have in your car), about 100 metres of cones closing off the inside lane, one man up in the air and one man with a light-stick waving you into the outside lane. That’s it, nothing else. Oh, and just one more little thing: it was at night!

And do you know what? Nobody crashed, nobody feinted, nobody needed counselling and nobody died.

Perhaps a few UK local government councillors would like to organise a fact-finding tour to the Costa del Sol for a couple of weeks to see how it’s done? Of course, it would be a shame not to bring their golf clubs as well, don’t you think? Purely for the odd moment they might find they have spare, you understand.

Don’t laugh, I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised if I found out it was already on their agenda! Useless wankers, all of them, they wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world of business.

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