2012: Tory Prime Minister David Cameron declares war on "Safety Culture"

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/17/tort-reform-astroturf.html


I wish I could believe in Hell.



Got a typo

“The reality is that the alleged health-and-safety-gone-made


The notion of “commonsense” in place of engineered (and legislated) safe solutions is a bullshit argument made by those who think they have better than average “common sense”. The reality is that we are terrible at assessing risk on an ad-hoc basis. But as a modern society, we have the capacity to measure, quantify and trend risk, and to put in place (through legislation) engineered safety solutions that are a net benefit.

“We didn’t have health and safety when I was growing up and I did just fine” is an argument that cannot be refuted by many of those who didn’t do “just fine”.


Health and safety gone made it dangerous…


Also, @doctorow, in the sixth paragraph, i suspect you meant properly installed rather than property installed.


It wasn’t just Cameron, either:

Combined with Boris previously telling those with concerns about fire funding to “get stuffed”…


Survivorship bias is hell of a thing…


Survivors’ Bias: You hear a lot of “I survived childhood without $VACCINATION just fine and nobody I know died of $DISEASE.” Hint: you wouldn’t tolerate a death rate of 1/1000 for much of anything else but your chances of knowing someone in your circle while growing up who died at 1/1000 is damned slim.

My mother, growing up in the 30s, lost two people in her small-town age cohort (high school graduating class of less than 20) to vaccine-preventable diseases. One was polio, the other might have been diphtheria. A family in her neighborhood lost a child to pertussis, and she was utterly terrified when I got measles for fear that it would leave me blind like another child she knew. This, a well-off family in a small Illinois town.

Drop the odds a bit, though, and people become convinced that it’s nothing to worry about. “Chicken Pox never hurt me,” they say. Likewise with seat belts and countless other safety advances. Because, dingaling, all those safety advances that you disparage have freaking prevented the very dangers that you think are so unimportant.


Certainly in most jurisdictions in the U.S. mandates for sprinklers in residential occupancies are relatively new and old buildings are “grandfathered” so that they aren’t required. “The WTF, Seriously?” thing about Grenfells is that it only had one stairwell. In the US, two stairwells in high-rises have been required since basically forever. It is such a basic principle that when I first read that Grenfells had only one, I assumed that it was some confusion by the press, and that perhaps they were talking about insufficient separation between two stairwells., or perhaps “scissor stairwells”* which are generally no longer permitted in new construction in the US but are still common in old buildings.

*Picture a pair of fire exit doorways on each side of the elevators that opens to a set of stairwell landings. From the each floor there are flight of steps leading going down and up to the stairwell landing on the opposite side of the elevators. Effectively the two stairwells are twisted around each other like a rope. Theoretically they’re separated from each other, but in practice that separation was rarely maintained as well as it should have been. If the fire stopping around the standpipe is compromised (as often happens over time) than smoke can get from one stairwell into the other, so they are no longer permitted in new construction.


Years ago I was on a military project. Our Army project manager was a major, an Old Etonian and married to an Italian countess (bear with me…)
He told us that the Army was stuffed with unpromotable majors whose jobs were basically secretarial because they had no scientific education. He on the other hand was being internally headhunted to run projects because he had a physics degree.
Now to the point…
At Eton he had been considered a failure because he was no good at Latin, and it was suggested he do science because that did not need the level of intelligence required to be an outstanding classicist.
Now consider that Cameron, Johnson and Rees-Mogg went to Eton and you begin to understand the attitude instilled by a school which boasts that it turns out the country’s rulers. When Gove said that we “had had enough of experts” what he meant was that the ruling class did not like experts because they, themselves were actually qualified to do nothing practical.


You would think that people in London would have a longer memory when it comes to fire safety.


There were great, devastating tsunamis hitting Japan centuries before the 20th and 21st. The survivors, smart as they were, build markers. “Water comes up till here, do not build between here and and the shoreline.”

I’ll leave guessing how that one worked out to the reader.


I was once in a pub in a Northern town (forget which) which has a marker nearly 3 metres up on a wall which is the highest flood water has come so far.
It makes you think there’s a kind of machismo at work. Perhaps on the slopes of Mount Etna there’s a peasant telling a tourist “In Grandpa’s day the lava would come through right where you’re standing”.
However, we are supposed nowadays to have safety standards, architects, planning boards, building inspectors and structural engineers.


That reminds me of the Hughie McIlmoyle statue outside Carlisle Uniteds ground

It was designed to walk on water if there was a flood as bad as the one in 2005. The flood in the picture wasn’t quite that bad, but the tidemark on the wall looks high.


In Boris Johnson’s world, Britain needs regular preventable catastrophes to do the work of Evolution and continue to weed out the slow and the stupid. Fine, sez I, turn Parliament into a Cube-style Maze of Death where Parliamentarians must evade a series of lethal booby-traps every time they want to vote. We will see who survives.


I think, i sure hope, that people are finally seeing through his calculated act of buffoonery and seeing him for the authoritarian nasty piece of work he really is. Most of us had already twigged with may back when she was home secretary, nobody liked her and her latest lack of showing any basic humanity whatsoever is proving the point. The tories seem to have a general problem keeping their human camo in working order…


I for one look forward to seeing Parliament in Fire Safety boot camp for their East Falklands Holiday. Boris Johnson (as consultant) can use those spinerettes on his head to make durable silk home insulation out of the delicious food that washes up on the beach.


All those Tory landlords voting against laws requiring housing to be habitable, it’s only fair that Parliament not be any safer for them…

I keep getting reminded of May’s unnamed appearance in Charles Stross’ The Nightmare Stacks:

“The Home Secretary appears to be doodling electric chairs on her blotter, eyes downcast to spare her neighbors the psychotic giggles: clearly her personal coach has been reminding her not to swallow baby mice in public again.”