John's Jottings

137. A Pile of Paperwork - November 2017

Posted on October 31, 2017 at 5:55 AM

Have you seen all this?” our secretary had asked a couple of months ago as he spread out a whole sheaf of papers on the table. “This has all come from the organiser of the Salchester show.” We leafed through them and took our pick.

“This sheet is about meals and overnight accommodation arrangements,” Ken announced. “It wants to know who is vegetarian, vegan, or allergic to milk, gluten, nuts, and so on.”

“This one’s all to do with the rules and regulations concerning the use of mains electrical power,” Adrian reported.

“My sheet covers the unloading, car parking and loading procedures,” Nigel told us. “It’ll all be under the control of stewards with yellow bibs and radios.”

“I’ve got the fire, emergency and evacuation procedures. They even give the wording of the public announcements that will be made to alert us to problems, but yet not alarm the public.”

“This one’s about name badges, security passes, and access routes.”

“Here’s the site map and the recommended route through the local road system that avoids planned roadworks at the nearby motorway junction. That’s thoughtful of them.”

“This is a poster for us to put up. And a request form for leaflets and advance tickets.”

“They want a full Risk Assessment for the layout, its transport, erection, operation and dismantling,” Jane said, holding up a substantial booklet. “It requires details of heavy items, solvents, soldering irons, items that might case someone to trip, burn their hand, and so on. They want to know what steps we’re taking to minimise the chance of an accident and what procedures we’ll have in place to mitigate the ill-effects should an incident occur. We’ve to present it completed to the organisers on arrival at the venue.”

Fred subsequently completed our Risk Assessment in the most meticulous detail. However, after the exhibition he was scathing about the process.

“After all that work, I don’t think anybody read it,” he complained.

“How do you be sure?” Nigel asked.

“Amongst the hazards I identified was the likelihood of shock experienced by youngsters when the pipe at the bottom of the trench in the roadworks cameo squirts water at them. There was no response.”

“Perhaps they don’t worry if kids get wet,” Felicity suggested with a smile. “Maybe it’s the only bath they get all year.”

“For one of the responses I included the phrase ‘or alternative, as required by the show managers.’

“They were obviously happy with what you had proposed,” Jim suggested.

“For the layout of the power cables, I gave two alternatives, asking which they preferred. I assumed that some official would come round to discuss it, but nobody did.”

“I had a chat with the show manager on the Sunday,” Fred continued. “He said that it’s only every five years that the show’s insurers insisted on full Risk Assessment documentation. None of the show officials are actually expected to look at the paperwork.”

“That’s stupid,” Paul commented. And for once we agreed with him wholeheartedly.

“Isn’t it’s always a good idea to do some form of Risk Assessment?” our chairman countered. “It helps to ensure that lax and potentially dangerous practices do not become the accepted norm.” And we had to agree with that as well. We’ll see what we actually do.

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