BBC London last night (still available but not for long) featured a small segment by Sarah Harris about a boat, placed on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall on the south bank, available for people to stay in overnight and enjoy unrivalled views of London.
“People on the South Bank were doing a double take as they looked up, but no, it really is what looks like a boat perched on the very edge of Queen Elizabeth Hall’s roof. Not only that but in a triumph over health & safety restrictions people can actually stay in it.”
She doesn’t qualify this comment, so I can only assume it’s another one if those lazy throwaway lines that the media love, to have a pop at the perceived excessive Health & Safety culture, which David Cameron is so keen to stamp out. Let’s have a think how this might be a “triumph over Health & Safety”.
This must mean that they’ve ignored any advice, law or building regulations that might be relevant to this situation, and that at *no point* during the planning has anyone done a risk assessment, putting guidelines in place to assure the safety of the occupants or passers-by.
Therefore this implies:
- The boat is unsecured or someone has judged it heavy enough that it probably won’t sway or topple over onto the pavement below.
- The roof weight limit has not been checked.
- Occupants access the roof and boat on their own, either by climbing the outside of the building, parachuting in, or unguided via maintenance areas.
- No additional lighting has been provided to guide them back to the inside of the building in the event of an emergency. In such an emergency, they’ll just have to take their chances as none of the nearby fire marshalls will check that area. The only emergency exit is to jump off the roof.
If the boat was constructed there, I can only wonder how it was put together e.g. who did the wiring and heating? If the boat was already built, how did it get up there? Jedi mind levitation? Using a crane would be cheating, as that would require a whole other set of considerations, including weight, stabilising the crane, rope strength, how it was lashed together.
Would you want to stay there?
The above points are what I would expect the Health & Safety officers involved to consider: looking at each situation as the plans were developed and implemented, based on their experience, established best practice, advice from the fire brigade and building engineers, using appropriate and certified equipment.
And that’s what we refer to as a culture of Health & Safety – is that so excessive? If this seems like common sense, can the media, press and politicians stop perpetuating those ridiculous myths and stop bashing at people trying to do their job? This is actually a triumph for all the Health & Safety people who’ve been involved in getting this to float.