Our life in their hands


I FIND the whole business of health and safety here in Spain puzzling, to say the least.

There can be no argument that if rules and regulations save people from injury or even worse as they go about their day to day business, then it is undoubtedly a good thing, particularly when I recall my days working in Bermuda.

It was the early seventies and although the Bermuda Islands were modern and highly developed, they were lacking in basic health and safety practices compared to the UK. Particularly in the building trade.

My first major contract was the roofing of a new conference centre that was perched on top of a seven storey wing of a large hotel.

The new roof was pitched and the only thing protecting me from instant raspberry jam on the patio far below, was a four by four inch triangular timber fillet that directed rainwater into down pipes, and into which I dug my heels. Oh boy, did I dig in those heels!

There was no scaffolding whatsoever, with access to the roof provided via an internal stairwell. My only ‘safety’ feature was a harness connected to a rope which in turn was held by my Rastafarian colleague Albert, sitting up top sporting a colourful tea cosy hat and singing Rastafarian songs.

But I survived.

But getting back to my opening statement. What I find puzzling in Spain is the failure at times to rectify even the most blatant breaches of health and safety rules.

Broken drain covers left unattended for months on end; doors to electrical inspection panels damaged or completely missing and left that way permanently; protruding paving slabs on pedestrian areas; ridges of hard concrete from uncleared spillage in roadways, the list is endless and nobody seems to be held accountable. And worse, nobody in authority seems to care.

And yet unnecessary cycle lanes are plonked in busy thoroughfares where there is clearly no heavy cycle traffic, and fines for such things as stowing your high visibility vest in the boot of the car instead of in the driver’s compartment.

It would seem to be just another instance of an EU member, whilst praising to the rafters the benefits and advantages of membership of this authoritarian club, choosing to blatantly ignore any of its laws and directives that they find inconvenient or cannot be bothered to implement.

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