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Health and Safety Bollocks, Railway Style (Pendolino Edition)

Bye Bye Baby, Baby Bye Bye, and I can see you as I leave you......

Question :

What is the difference between the train on the left, and the train below ?

(Hint, it`s not the 1970s

“Bay City Rollers” decor)

Picture credits :  

D Coxon, APT page

KPAIAU (Flickr)

People don`t want to look out of the window, that`s too 1970s. These days they want virtual reality, not actual reality.

Answer : The tartan train interior is the original tilting train, the APT, it has a window area per coach of about 19 sq m. The train above is a Virgin Pendolino, its window area is about 10 sq m. One is bigger than the other by around 90% (that`s ninety, as in nine zero percent).

Why ?

Health and Safety Bollocks that`s why !

Apparently the smaller windows make the Pendolino safer.

The correct response to this is not : “Great, they`re safer, I can now sleep more soundly at night”.

The considered response to this (and every Health & Safety edict) should be :

Exactly how much safer does it make me ?

And what am I sacrificing to achieve that ?

How safe do you want to be ? On average you are likely to die every two billion miles of travel on a British train, that`s 2,000,000,000 miles. In fact as of 2015 there hadn`t been any fatal rail accidents (passenger deaths) in 7 - that`s seven - years. Smaller windows might improve your chances, maybe to 1 in 2,200,000,000 ?  People who are sufficiently risk averse to think train travel is significantly dangerous should always sit with their back to the direction of travel because that would make a far bigger difference to their safety than smaller windows. More to the point, assuming they want to be consistent in their risk aversion, they should never drive, in fact they should never go on the roads at all, and they should also live in a bungalow......

Health And Safety Bollocks, School Style.

When I read chemistry experiments were under threat, particularly the "whizz bang" ones, because of Health & Safety Bollocks I couldn`t believe it. That was the only interesting thing about chemistry wasn`t it ? Undertaking the experiments, especially the spectacular ones, was certainly the thing which fired up most pupils interest in the subject.

Good Lord, as far as I`m concerned you`re not a proper school kid if you haven`t got at least one accidental (or not....) acid burn mark on your school blazer.

Hold on, do they still wear blazers ?

I`ll rephrase that.

Good Lord, as far as I`m concerned you`re not a proper school kid if you haven`t got at least one accidental (or not....) acid burn mark on your school hoodie.

That article in The Times waits till the end to really score top marks for Bollocks.

A Head Teacher, Jane Lees (incredibly a former Head of Science......) is actually quoted as saying that they`ve "moved on" from doing practical experiments. Next she almost gets enthusiastic when she opines that they`ve got "different ways of teaching now, with videos, the internet and virtual learning ! ".  Fantastic ! !  Virtual Learning ! ! !

Didn`t that used to be called watching it on TV ? Sounds like real fun to me.......

Finally, and almost unbelievably, she says, and this is a direct quote, this virtual learning is "just as interesting" (as actually doing the experiments). As far as I`m concerned if she thinks kids, or adults come to that, would really get just as much interest from watching an experiment on the internet, as actually doing it, she`s got no business being a teacher. The alternative, which I don`t believe for a second, is that the kids of today really would find it as interesting, in which case they`re even sadder than I ever imagined. In fact one wonders for the future of the human race. Virtual sex doesn`t make babies, or it didn`t when I last checked, but they`re damn clever these Chinese, so we`ll just have

to wait and see....

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How Risky Is It ?                                                                              

Below is a list which was originally printed in the Royal Statistical Society News (Oct 1998) as part of an article by Frank Duckworth. Frank is one half of the pair who invented the Duckworth Lewis scoring system in cricket. The list is an attempt to quantify risk by giving it a “risk number” equating to the probability of death.

As these risk numbers vary by an order of magnitude it is a logarithmic scale, e.g. for a risk number of 4 you would be 10 x more likely to die than a risk number of 3. The figures refer to the UK and are for a lifetime`s exposure unless a specific time period is given.

But don`t smaller windows also help to prevent people being thrown out of the windows in a crash ?

Well, maybe there`s something in that argument because I have to say that I do like looking out of train windows at the sylvan British countryside, and it does actually annoy me when the view is obscured by the piles of bodies thrown from all these train windows, so yes, I could possibly go for that one.

On the other hand what are we losing ?   A nice light pleasant environment ?    Being able to actually see out of a train window ?   Dark Satanic Mills are so last century (or the one before), instead we`re getting Dark Satanic Trains. That said, we must remember that there are some people who actually like claustrophobic interiors, but, on the other hand, is the percentage of agoraphobics in the population really that significant ?

Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water ?  Assuming the window is big enough, obviously.

Safe as (windowless) houses.

Left : East Midlands Trains “Meridian”

Below : Virgin “Pandolino”

Bad Design On British Public Transport.

100 mile rail journey

Destructive asteroid impact (new born male)

1000 mile flight

100 mile car journey (sober middle aged driver)

Rock climbing (one session)

Homicide (new born male)

Lifetime of car travel (new born male)

Accidental falls (new born male)

Rock climbing (over 20 years)

Deep sea fishing (40 year career)

Continuing smoking cigarettes (male aged 35 : 10 per day)

Continuing smoking cigarettes (male aged 35 : 40 per day)

Russian roulette (one game)

Suicide (successful attempt ! )

0.3 =

1.6 =

1.7 =

1.9 =

4.2 =

4.6 =

5.5 =

5.5 =

6.3 =

6.4 =

6.7 =

7.1 =

7.2 =

8.0 =

Agoraphobics rise up, life`s better than ever !

Health and Safety Bollocks, Airport Style

Whilst on the subject of Health & Safety Bollocks, transport wise, what about those new  "all seeing" scanners at Manchester airport (from Autumn 2010), soon to be rolled out to an airport near you.

Have you seen how graphic the pictures they produce are ?  

I tell you, as a bloke, I wouldn`t want to go through one of those scanners if it was a cold day, if you know what I`m saying...... And just to heighten your nerves, the picture may well be viewed by woman. They`re not sexist though, a woman is just as likely to be viewed by a man, so make sure you hold your tummy/tummies in Ladies, and Gents of course !  

My wife and I had the misfortune to be scanned and it was a deeply humiliating experience. The pictures of you are bad enough, but you have to stand with your legs open and your hands on your head, like a bleedin` criminal about to be arrested, awful. Going through it myself was bad enough, but the thought that my dear old mum (and yours) would also have to do so is absolutely disgraceful.

Having said that, the PLO * are hijacking planes every other day at the moment, so perhaps it`s fair enough ?   

It`s Health & Safety Bollocks, that`s what it is !

Let`s face it, even with the old metal detectors and "pat down" searches, how many planes from Britain were hijacked last year ?

Or even in the last 10 years ?

Boeing weren`t exactly working overtime building loads of replacement planes for all those blown up in the sky, were they ?

"But scanners still make it safer, anything that makes it safer is fine by me ! "

Question : How many of those who say this, drive to the bleedin` airport......

They`re far more likely to get killed in their car as they drive to the airport than they are once aboard the plane. But that doesn`t stop them driving does it !  

Get a grip man......

How have they managed to get away with being able to take these pictures of us ?

I thought us Brits were a bolshy lot who didn`t like being pushed around or humiliated ?

That`s why we won the war !

(actually, that is why we won the war,  well that plus the Royal Navy and the English Channel......)

* PLO (Pensioners` Liberation Organisation)

(This joke works better with people over 40 who remember the real PLO trying to get free travel on planes in the 1970s)

Everyone knows how dangerous cigarettes are but notice how dangerous car travel is, did you know that the single biggest killer of teenage girls is their boyfriend`s bad driving......  And I can`t help laughing when I think of people who are so very concerned about the safety of their children they don`t let them climb trees, and they worry about them when they`re off on school trips, then you see them overtaking you breaking the speed limit, with their kids in the back !

Think on......

Driving is risky but so is the danger from falls. The use of stairs is a dangerous activity. I`m not being facetious about this, they really are risky ! Bear in mind that this list is only giving a risk factor for death, if you include the risk of injuries I wouldn`t be surprised if use of the stairs actually came top !

Remember that when you casually trot downstairs carrying something with both arms, and read basic ladder safety......

On the other hand I wonder what would be the chance of death whilst being shown around

a railway locomotive as in the tale above ?

About the same as an asteroid impact ?

That`s Health & Safety Bollocks.......

In his article Frank wonders how different our attitude to risk would be if all illness was curable and they could stop the ageing process. To emphasise the point, if we could potentially live for ever, would we still indulge in risky activities ?

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Health and Safety Bollocks, Railway Style.

This is a story about "Health & Safety Bollocks" railway style, and ultimately it really is quite sad, in fact it almost brings a tear to my eye.......

I can remember when I was about twelve back in the mid 70s going with the school to the National Railway Museum at York. The NRM is fabulous and it was a great day out but in the afternoon there was an undoubted highlight that actually had quite an effect on the rest of my life. At that time there was a British Railways yard just at the side of the museum and a group of us were sitting watching an engine being worked there. After a short while the driver noticed us sat there and he descended from the cab, walked over to us and asked us if we wanted to go on the footplate ! Naturally we all jumped at the chance and followed him up into the loco. It was fantastic as he showed us what everything did and how to start the engine, but it got even better when he asked us if we wanted to drive it ! Alright it was only 50 yards or so but it was a wonderful experience for a group of lads, though I`m sure it would be a wonderful experience for most "grown ups" as well !

This incident helped to fire my enthusiasm for all things to do with railways and it had a similar effect on at least one of the other group of us. So why do memories of it make me feel a bit sad ? Well it could never happen these days, and so that`s one more experience that the kids of today will never have. I`m sure if it did occur now the railwayman concerned would be sacked on the spot because it`d be considered a serious breach of "Health & Safety". At first sight it may seem to be, but if you think about it that`s bollocks, in fact it`s "Health & Safety Bollocks". You`d almost certainly be in far more danger crossing the bleedin` road, and yet that is perfectly legal !

On the other hand the "Train Operating Companies" (how romantic that sounds.......) would probably consider it to be a waste of the drivers` time, and therefore their money.

But that`s bollox as well.

I`ll tell you something, that railwayman knew more about public relations than all these students tumbling out of university with their "Marketing Science" degrees put together. I don`t even want to think how much I`ve spent on train travel etc over the years (most of  which I probably wouldn`t have) had that BR driver not taken time out for a bunch of kids.

That`s it.

Remember every "Health & Safety Bollocks" ruling has a cost somewhere along the line, even if it`s "only" to deny people fabulous experiences that can change their lives......

Still, at least the kids of today have got their "Play Stations", though I`m sure there`s not one of them who would rather play a bleedin` computer game than actually drive a train, well, not the normal ones anyway.

Actually, blaming Health and Safety (as in the Health and Safety Executive) is probably misguided. It`s the bleedin` compensation culture, those parasite lawyers and people out to get something for nothing. Don`t the latter realise what 4” fence posts are really about !  Oh yes, and companies (and councils) using “Health and Safety” as an excuse to save money by withdrawing services........

There`s a rather unfortunate postscript to this tale. As of October 2010 it`s been announced that the National Railway Museum is to “updated”. Why is change always assumed to be better, particularly for a museum ? ! ?  They`re going to get rid of many of the locomotives - including moving the sectioned steam loco Ellerman Lines, ironically one of the most interesting exhibits -  and replace them with, wait for it, “interactive exhibits”, and wait a bit longer, build up the suspense, “themed areas”.

Dumbing down at museums is becoming more and more common, I`m sure it`s aimed at kids* (though to be fair it`s patronising to assume that all kids are brain dead) but if you just want to look at things on a screen you can do that on the internet anyway, so why bother going to a museum at all !  Weston Park Museum in Sheffield used to have loads of interesting stuff in it, now, unless you`re into (what we used to call) “computer games”, you can see the whole lot in about half an hour. In fact it`s probably won an award.

Actually, I just checked up, unsurprisingly, it has won an award.......

The Guardian award for “Museums Most Likely To Appeal To Kids With Attention Deficit Disorder”, or something like that.

Now, this isn`t Health & Safety Bollocks, no, this is just Bollocks.

* Kids will generally get into museums as they get older, that`s the natural order of things, but, if we keep going down the current path, when they do start going to museums on their own they`ll think, there`s buggar all in here, what a waste of space !

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Health And Safety Bollocks                       

Health and Safety Bollocks, Railway Style   (plus, museums have gone mad)

Health and Safety Bollocks, Railway Style (Pendolino Edition)

Health and Safety Bollocks, Airport Style

Health and Safety Bollocks, School Style.

How Risky Is It ?

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please help us increase the number of people reading it.

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Hooray ! There`s no chance you`ll be thrown out of the window sat here ! !