The Risk Of The Non-Existent

I think that I’m probably one of the many people who thinks that there are some health and safety policies that go a bit too far.

I wouldn’t classify myself as accident prone, but I do have a ridiculous ability to hurt myself.  Sure, I’ve cut my hand while holding a frozen muffin to cut it in half, head-butted stairs and plant pots but I’m more likely to pick up sporting injuries than fall over something.

I was walking along a long, straight, largely empty corridor at work today, looking at my phone.  I was glancing up every now and again to check my way.  Then I hear, “Don’t trip over that thing, lad.”

I look up and around, “What thing? That manhole cover that doesn’t sit properly since they cleaned the resevoir underneath?”

“The thing you can’t see while you’re looking at your phone.”

Now, I take the point and I don’t want to be an idiot about this, but I couldn’t see the thing because the thing didn’t exist.  What’s more, the guy at the other end of the conversation didn’t stop walking while he was looking at me to speak to me, so there was also a stage where he couldn’t see the thing that didn’t exist while he was telling me to be careful of the thing that didn’t exist which put us both at risk of non-existent things.  He also pointed to the floor behind me which caused me to look from whence I came meaning I couldn’t see possible non-existent things that may be randomly become existent in front of me.

As I say, though, I don’t want to be an idiot about this!

I understand that health and safety is about risk avoidance, especially when a company feels like they might get sued, but I was playing with the circumstances I knew them to be and was making assessments, even subconsciously, of what I expected the situation to be like at any specific time.

I continued to think about this through the afternoon when walking the corridor again, not looking at my phone.  I realised that I was looking at artwork on the right side of the corridor and in so doing could not see a doorway on the left.  I realised that if I focussed on the end of the corridor, I couldn’t necessarily see a non-existent object at my feet.  So I looked at my feet and realised I could see even less.  I got to the end of the corridor where it joins with another and, a bit like crossing the road, you realise that you can’t look two ways at once to ever completely and totally eliminate risk.

You need to assess the circumstances and the risks at a particular time and act to a standard that you see safe which, I think, you do subconsciously not just for the physical safety of yourself but for the physical safety of others.  (Let’s not bring empathy in to this – that’s a whole different ballgame.)

I think I proved that I’d done an assessment with the comment about the manhole cover.  I was walking to the far left of the corridor so no-one could walk past me on my left (we’re encouraged to walk on the left!) in a manner that my driving instructor would have called “dominating the situation”.  I knew from experience where the doors were leading on to the corridor and looked up to check them, while making an assumption that other people were paying similar levels of attention so as not to walk in to me.

While I understand that risk avoidance is an important concept and that it’s better to act against that risk before it happens rather than after, sometimes you do have to think about how far it is necessary to go to avoid something that simply isn’t there.

Well, no one told me about her
The way she lied
Well, no one told me about her
How many people cried

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
How would I know? Why should I care?
Please don’t bother trying to find her
She’s not there

Well, let me tell you ’bout the way she looked
The way she acts and the color of her hair
Her voice was soft and cool
Her eyes were clear and bright
But she’s not there

Well, no one told me about her
What could I do?
Well, no one told me about her
Though they all knew

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
How would I know? Why should I care?
Please don’t bother trying to find her
She’s not there

Well, let me tell you ’bout the way she looked
The way she acts and the color of her hair
Her voice was soft and cool
Her eyes were clear and bright
But she’s not there

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry
How would I know? Why should I care?
Please don’t bother trying to find her
She’s not there

Well, let me tell you about the way she looked
The way she acts and the color of her hair
Her voice was soft and cool
Her eyes were clear and bright
But she’s not there

She’s Not There by The Zombies

Leave A Comment?