|Keith Lard. Health & Safety Guru|
As my gentle reader is no doubt aware, I am blessed with the designation: ‘Health & Safety Officer’. I confess that I’m not the best man for the job as I’m often spotted in the lab area with my lab coat inside out. However, as no bugger wants to take on the onerous task, the department gets the health and safety officer, it deserves. I have been likened to a cruise ship physician- ‘one step away from a malpractice suit’.
One of my tasks is to ensure that staff complete the annual ‘Health and Safety Questionnaire’: a series of 20 questions on the riveting topic of health and safety. During the 11 years of my tenure, the questions have not changed. At a meeting 7 years ago I pointed this out and suggested that the whole exercise was a complete waste of time. O horror of horrors. I had spoken ill about ‘Health and Safety’ and the health and safety gods were muchly (not a real word) displeased. I settled for a compromise. Every year I would formulate new questions to ensure that the exercise was not completely pointless. The gods who take note of this sort of thing were appeased and the palpable tension in the meeting dispersed like a dispersy thing.
Since that fateful meeting, I have been diligently revising the questionnaire format. I also check everyone’s answers to make sure they are 100% correct. I reckon that at least half of the questionnaires (12) are error infested and therefore I’m obliged to return the erroneous forms to the errant staff members for correction. I did this as I was under the impression that someone in the Occupational Health Department actually scrutinised the forms for error. In fact, we had been informed that if the questionnaires contained errors they would be returned for revision. I had a sneaking suspicion that the whole affair was a paper exercise only and that no one actually checked the forms. In the spirit of quality control, I decided to send the questionnaires ‘unedited’. I had a quick glance through the submissions to confirm that they were error prone as usual. I did a similar thing last year and mentioned the whole sorry episode in a previous post entitled, ‘Health & Safety’. This year I thought I would perform a ‘Gold Audit’ and being of a mischievous twist of mind, I also decided to submit a questionnaire from a fictitious staff member, with the implausible name: Shagger ‘The Ferret’ Mugumbo. As Shagger does not have opposable thumbs he found it difficult to hold a pen and therefore his answers were dictated and loving transcribed by your genial and rather fetching, host.
Shagger is not a particularly smart ferret and his answers skirted along the lines: “I like shitting in corners; Fuck with me and I’ll bite your nose off; polystyrene makes my poo stringy”. All the answers had a ferret inspired theme. With trepidation, I submitted Shagger’s contribution with all the other questionnaires.
I awaited the dreaded email: “Dr Saxon, On review of this year’s Health and Safety questionnaire submissions, I noticed that you have acquired a new staff member to wit:- Shagger ‘The Ferret’ Mugumbo. Said staff member has not attended the obligatory Health & Safety induction day. Please contact Occupational Health to arrange attendance”.
Instead, I received the following in bright bold type:
“Thank-you for your 100% compliance. The outstanding quality of your department's response has been noted and you have been selected and recommended for commendation”. ARSE.
As I recall, I received the exact same email last year. As for the commendation thingy; tis a complete mystery to me as nothing subsequently happened last year when I received this email and I suspect that my exemplary achievement will go unrecognised, again. At least I expected to be called upon the stage at a prestigious corporate event and handed a gold embossed plaque from our exalted CEO. A standing ovation would ensue and someone suitably primed, no doubt by higher management would shout at the top of their voice: “Surely, he is more god than man”.
Could it possibly be that the higher management folk are blowing smoke up my pert and impeccably coiffured, arse? (arse, big pert arse)- perhaps.
At the forthcoming Health and Safety meeting, I will take great pleasure in informing senior management about the sorry episode concerning Shagger’s valuable contribution to ‘Health and Safety’. I’m sure they will all be agog. Mayhap they will give him a commendation?