Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Actual safety concerns

Normally I rant about how things are too focused on safety, particularly safety that is really about legal butt covering or plausible deniability instead of a real cost benefit analysis.  Yesterday I saw something that really got me wondering where the safety inspector was at Elli's school.

There is construction going on at the school as they are swapping to all day kindergarten in the fall (exactly when Elli will be done kindergarten, naturally) and they need to add on room to accommodate the additional students.  As I was dropping Elli off I saw a large crane lifting a huge metal section of stairs about ten meters long into place in the new construction.  It must have weighed thousands of kilos at the very least and was slowly being moved into place by the crane next to a new unsupported brick wall two storeys tall.  The children were playing in their sandbox in the playground... three meters from where the stairs and the brick wall were.

I was standing there at a reasonable distance watching and suddenly realized what utter lunacy was going on.  Sure, if everything works perfectly the crane lifts the stairs into place and everything is fine but if the stairs bash into the brick wall it could easily fall and kill half a dozen kids.  Obviously in the great majority of cases nothing goes wrong but it is bloody insane to be using heavy machinery with children pretty much directly under the work area.  One of the workers not directly involved ran in and started screaming at the others to put the stairs down and lambasting them for being idiots; while this was certainly warranted I was the one who had to rush to the kids and yell at them to run away from the construction zone as neither the teachers nor the construction workers seemed to be doing that.

The construction has constantly kept parts of the school locked up for absolutely no reason and regularly directed us not to do things that are no danger at all.  We have to escort 11 year old children to school and back because they aren't 'safe' going home alone even if home is on the same block.  Nobody can come to the school in bare feet because of the 'toxic' chemicals on the floors.  When it comes time to hoist huge objects with cranes around though the kids get to play practically under the huge object in question.  Quite the case of misplaced priorities.

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