Thursday, April 05, 2012

Why Health and Safety costs lives

The local level crossing comes down 4 minutes before a train arrives. It does this whether it's expecting an Intercity to charge through the station unhindered, in futile chase of the vanishing point at the horizon, or whether a dual-carriage local station-hopper is chugging slowly down the line.

About 40 cars are held during this time on each side of the crossing, so even assuming that there's only one occupant in each car, it follows that 320 minutes of dead-time are created in people's lives every time the crossing comes down. The crossing comes down on average 4 times every hour for at least 12 hours of every day, so that's about 5,606,400 minutes of dead time created by just one level crossing every year.

There's only 525600 minutes in a year, so this single level crossing creates the equivalent of more than 10 person-years of dead time, and it does this every year. That's the equivalent of going out and randomly slaughtering ten people.

Not only that, but the reason why so many people try to jump these level crossings when the barriers begin to descend, is precisely because they've experienced the ridiculously excessive safety margins endemic in modern bureaucratic culture. If the barriers came down 30 seconds before each train arrives, and people could transparently perceive that this was consistently the case, then there would be no incentive for jumping the barrier. It's the excessive safety margins which create both the incentive, and the low perceived risk for jumping a descending barrier.

For these reasons, then, modern Health and Safety is a killer.


Sean said...

I would say, Lock the buggers in a room with a copy of Prf. John Adams book "risk" and refuse to let them out until they can recite it word for word.

Sam said...

Hehe. Reminds me of your dark side, I experienced during our car share days.

Gordon McCabe said...

Embrace the dark side!