Yesterday we were chatting with a chap who manufactures small caravans. For some reason we wandered onto the subject of regulations, perhaps because he has experienced a mounting pile of regulatory paperwork over the past few years. You know - that red tape the Tories are so keen to release us from.
Risk assessments are a particular annoyance in his caravan building world. Not only the pettiness and general uselessness of them, but the assiduous jobsworths who administer the system, collect the paperwork, file it and make a huge issue of the tiniest omission.
The trouble is, when jobsworths look at risk assessment they are tempted to invent risks to keep their particular show on the road. Even the most unimaginative of their species find it easy enough to do this because obviously there are no limits to potential risks conjured up by the fertility of human imagination.
I was reminded of all this silliness during the evening meal Mrs H and I enjoyed later that same day. There we were seated at our restaurant table with a little candle casting a friendly glow and for some reason I carried out an imaginary risk assessment.
Suppose I were to treat myself to a brandy. I take a large mouthful and suddenly sneeze a fine spray of brandy just above that candle. Now imagine a chap seated opposite me with a huge bushy beard. That spray of sneezed brandy catches fire from the candle, ignites the chap’s beard and there we have it. A trip to the local hospital burns unit at the very least.
All because of the candle and the brandy. So to control the risk we eliminate spirits and candles from the restaurant. But hang on – alcohol carries its own risks quite apart from the threat of inadvertent ignition.
To control that risk we replace all alcoholic drinks in the restaurant with fruit juice. But hang on – fruit juice contains fruit sugars which may be bad for the teeth as well as being evil carbohydrates.
To control that risk we replace all the fruit juice drinks in the restaurant with a nice glass of water. But hang on – glass has obvious hazards because it is so easily broken and diners might not realise how dangerous broken glass can be.
To control that risk we replace the nice glasses of water with not so nice but much safer plastic beakers of water.
There – job done.