Monday, 28 November 2016

Safety, stupidity, and why common sense isn’t very common anymore


With the weekend disaster on the Kaipara bar still on everyone’s mind, an ex-Department of Labour inspector, paramedic, and fireman wrote to Newtalk ZB’s Leighton Smith with the subject line, 'The Science of Being Stupid: Common Sense vs Health and Safety Act vs Bureaucrats'.

He joined the programme to talk about common sense and how bureaucracy and box ticking has diminished it – on the Pike River tragedy, the Kaikoura earthquake, and more. Very interesting.

AUDIO HERE: Tony Rigg: Common sense isn't very common anymore – NEWSTALK ZB



  1. A case of ' when you protect people from folly , you end up with a society of fools'. We now seem to have a bureaucratic system that is obsessed with making our lives accident and risk free, people are losing the ability to asses risk and the molly coddling starts at birth.

  2. In the construction industry the term "Health and Safety" has almost taken on an Orwellian alternative meaning, divorced from the original intent. When most people use the term they usually mean any over-the-top or bureaucratic limits on going about your job. For any organization that takes it seriously the primary focus becomes not on practical measures to make things more safe, but paperwork to try and show your compliance with the act and cover your butt. That's not to say the paperwork and actual safe practices are necessarily in conflict, but when your focus is more on paperwork/compliance, the practical requirements of being safe can and often do become secondary.

    1. Yep, its become all about process. Wellington is full of zombies that don't even look when crossing the road. If we left speed limits alone we could reduce the Green vote while helping evolution select the watchful and awake.

      I've been wondering what the govt was going to do with thousands of tons of rock along the Kaikoura Coast. The volume is so large the RMA can't cope so common sense has prevailed and its going to be shoved into the sea just as nature intended. Maybe this proves common sense is always available long after legislative lunacy has been overwhelmed by circumstances.


    2. We as individuals need to decide whether or not we are going to be zombies controlled by the state or if we as individuals are in charge of our own lives. These people in gov't are no better, no more capable than the rest of us,in fact they would probably be much less capable if the truth be known. We need to take control of our own lives rather than let them dictate to us how we live. The most capable and skilled people are those in private life not in gov't .The solution to the catastrophe in Kaikoura is for the gov't to get out of the way and allow people with their skills to be able to get on with fixing things.

    3. The reason for this is that Health and Safety has nothing to do with health or safety, or covering your butt. It's liability mitigation on the part of the company. They don't care if you get injured or killed; they only care that they (the company) isn't considered at fault. If you get injured the company wants to be able to point to the paperwork and say "We went over this; obviously he did something wrong, and therefore it's not our problem."

      I say this as someone who's work in the construction industry, and seen every single solution to "potentially unsafe conditions" be "fill out more paperwork"--and as someone who's READ that paperwork, and considered the implications. (The more cynical side of me wants to say: The reason these safety plans are so long is to hide that fact!)


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