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Topic Title: [OT] Health and safety - when did the boards (and industry) start tightening up?
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Created On: 23 February 2015 09:09 PM
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 23 February 2015 09:09 PM
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TimJWatts

Posts: 402
Joined: 07 August 2013

It is a bit OT, but I thought it might be interesting.

My dad (RIP) was an engineer on the LV/HV (usually to 11kV) networks with the London Electricity Board - Paddington and Brompton areas at various times IIRC. 1950s to set a rough date...

He was one of the poor sods who spent some considerable time in the burns unit after a manky old switch blew up and turned its oil into a fireball in an underground transformer chamber.

Anyway, manky equipment aside, he told some scary tales of that era.

1) A chap he was in hospital with (and they remained friends) had suffered chest and arm burns. He was making an 11kV voltage test at a substation (the sort that are in a room, not out in the open). Bare metal probes into test points, stand back, close test point isolator, take reading, open test point isolator, remove probes. He missed one crucial step.

2) The substation attendant who was cheerfully telling my dad about the HV neon tester that was about 2-3 foot long sitting in the corner that someone had dropped and possibly knackered - and yet, no one had the foresight to take it out of service. I recall my dad saying he was not best pleased to be hearing this.

I found this hard to believe when I first heard it 30 years ago - it's even harder now to fathom how such things went on in any era.

Was there a real turning point between the 50s-60s and now where H&S was radically improved or had it been a very gradual process?
 23 February 2015 09:48 PM
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mikejumper

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Originally posted by: TimJWatts
Was there a real turning point between the 50s-60s and now where H&S was radically improved or had it been a very gradual process?

If you look at pictures of building, roadwork or railwork from this era the guys often wore the old suit that was now too worn for church, weddings and funerals.
No hard hats, no hi-vis, no harnesses.
I'd say it was some considerable time later that things started to tighten up, perhaps the last 20 years or so; driven in part probably by insurance companies.
 23 February 2015 10:15 PM
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slittle

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As a relative youngster (42) in the industry I'd say around the turn of the century for many organisations.

When I was an apprentice with a large organisation that had it's roots in Chelmsford and began with "M" we may of possibly done all sorts of things that there is no way could,should or would happen today.

Equally my first employment post apprenticeship within local government wasn't too fussy but by the time I moved again in '99 things were starting to change.

Stu
 23 February 2015 10:42 PM
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Fm

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Management regs 1999. Risk assessements were required for 5 or more employees so it was a good starting point for tightening up after the hasawa
 23 February 2015 11:10 PM
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TimJWatts

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Wow. As late as that? Firgures I suppose... In 1987 my boss gave me a bollocking for doing some tests on a live (mains) and opened PSU (which I'd built - nothing clever, just basic transformer, bridge rectifier and some capacitors) *in a public area*.

Apparently it would have been ok to do so in the privacy of our office!!!!

Then again, I grew up making 340V DC PSUs (I say "PSU", it was just rectified mains and a capacitor - again) on veroboard to fire a Xenon tube and it's 4kV trigger, all on the dining table with my dad's full approval. My mum did look a bit worried but she knew to stay away from such shenannigans...
 24 February 2015 07:55 AM
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Fm

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Ah those were the days, a trip down to the local Tandy to get some components and let the soldering commence!
It all stopped in secondary school for a while
 24 February 2015 08:56 AM
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TimJWatts

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I was allowed, age 11, to take the train and tube up to Hammersmith where Maplins had opened a shop. Maplins were good then
 24 February 2015 11:29 AM
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mapj1

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Ah but after that train journey, did you go down the Edgware road with your pocket money jangling, and come back poorer in money but lugging some great chunk of govt. surplus kit to dismantle -no doubt full of polychlorinated oils and berylia insulation. I know I did

Bi-Pak, Technomatic, Proops - a world of fun, seemingly all swept away..

there are those, not me I add, who work at places where you can only park backwards, as reversing out is dangerous, and running down the stairs without using the rails is a disciplinary offence.

Mind you its not all doom and gloom - some places retain a sense of fun staff slide at google offices

-------------------------
regards Mike
 24 February 2015 12:24 PM
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TimJWatts

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Originally posted by: mapj1

Ah but after that train journey, did you go down the Edgware road with your pocket money jangling, and come back poorer in money but lugging some great chunk of govt. surplus kit to dismantle -no doubt full of polychlorinated oils and berylia insulation. I know I did

Bi-Pak, Technomatic, Proops - a world of fun, seemingly all swept away..



No - we had, I think it was AJ Bulls, in Croydon for a more local aladdins cave of weird stuff.

Last time I went there it was for a reel of moderately heavy guage enamelled wire to put 10000 turns on a 1.5" steel rod I'd spent a month forging into a U at metalwork to make a big magnet.

I'd used my dad's engineering books from the 1940s to calculate holding force, ampere-turns for saturation etc - all in dyns and gawd knows what else!

It worked though - 2A at 12V and it could pick up manhole covers - the rectangular cast ones!

It could also bugger up colour TVs - I had 30 mins before the folks came back turning it on and off to fire the degaussing coil about 100 times before the picture stopped being vortex shaped and purple!



there are those, not me I add, who work at places where you can only park backwards, as reversing out is dangerous, and running down the stairs without using the rails is a disciplinary offence.

Mind you its not all doom and gloom - some places retain a sense of fun staff slide at google offices




I've been in their London offices and that's very Star Trek - no slides though... But the food is good - I am jealous of people who can get a job there...
 24 February 2015 12:32 PM
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BillI

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While on a student placement at ERA I remember being sent to the Edgware Road for odds and ends of refrigerator bits and hydraulic valves for some test set-up we were making.
Long before that at the age of 7 or 8 I was sent by train (Lakes Express) from Euston to West Cumberland on my own "in charge of the Guard".
Times have certainly changed.

Bill
 24 February 2015 01:26 PM
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Angram

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Joined: 23 March 2009

There was significant addition to H&S legislation in the 1970s. This started the change of culture from "having courage" in dangerous situations to one of "taking care".

Before this you were a "sissey" if you needed protective clothing or a harness at heights. People took pride in facing danger and surviving.
Accidents did nothing to change this.

It was a slow press to where we are now. Most of british industry was strapped for cash and antiquated. It desperately needed renewal anyway up to the 1970s.

Why do people talk about the good old days.

Earth conductors just twisted together with a pair of pliers behind a wooden fuse box.
 24 February 2015 02:08 PM
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mapj1

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Not on a lighting circuit of course, no CPC required

It would be good if the accident figures had fallen by a factor of ten or more over the same period, but actually they haven't - the improvement is certainly noticeable, but smaller than might have been hoped.

All that happens is a funny sort of complacency - you put a hand rail in and some daft bugger leans on it and then drops off while holding onto it, or they open the mains box up with the power on 'because the interlocks make it safe -don't they?' Or you fit ABS braking and folk drive closer together...

So one trusts the 'inspected' sticker and forgets why they should keep their hands behind their back in front of spinny stuff, and that they have eyes and ears of their own.

Equally we need as a country to lose about 1 million people a year to keep population in check, and we do, but very few who die are any kind of accident, and actually they never were.

The Pylon Men - 1956 documentary

Quite a good watch - no-one dies of course.

More pylon men - look out for the tractor.

edited to add links.

-------------------------
regards Mike


Edited: 24 February 2015 at 02:22 PM by mapj1
 24 February 2015 04:03 PM
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TimJWatts

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Joined: 07 August 2013

Originally posted by: mapj1

All that happens is a funny sort of complacency - you put a hand rail in and some daft bugger leans on it and then drops off while holding onto it, or they open the mains box up with the power on 'because the interlocks make it safe -don't they?' Or you fit ABS braking and folk drive closer together...




I got caught by that in 1988. Was exposing PCBs in a UV lightbox.
I opened the lid mid run to check something, assuming there's be an interlock.

There wasn't... It hurt a bit - more than catching a welding arc, prompting a very rapid looking away.

Took ages for one eye to get its full colour vision back!
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