So on Monday I’m loading my van when the boss asks me to drop off an order at a local packaging factory, we are running late and the staff canteen are screaming for their delivery. I load it up and jump in my van. When I get to the gatehouse I know I have to sign in, I have done this drop before but it has been quite a while since I have. The old procedure was to sign in at the gatehouse whereby the security would hand me a high-viz vest, I drive to the door, put on the vest and get out the van, walk around the factory floor using a yellow-lined path. I drop into the canteen and leave the meat.
This time though the security guard was a different person, he signed me in, spelling my name as Warren, a mistake that is made so often I don’t bother anymore to argue the toss. He gives me a laminated vehicle pass and I put it on my dashboard. He raises the barrier and so I go in. I park up and get out of my van, open the side door to get the order. Suddenly out of nowhere appears two concerned men armed with high-viz vests and one with a clipboard. “Excuse me,” says the littler man, “where is your high-viz vest?”
“Oh, I wasn’t given one,” I reply, remembering only than about the vest thing.
“Did you sign to say you have read the rules?” he said.
“Ermm, I don’t think so but…..”
He interrupts me, pointing at the pass on the dashboard, “Did you sign to say you have read that?”
“No, I signed in at the gate, I thought it was just to confirm my van was on the site.”
“You signed to say you have read it and you have not, you need a high-viz vest,” he was becoming very adamant that this was an obvious notion, perhaps to him it was but no one had told me what I was signing. I thought it best to try and explain but when I did he rudely interrupted me again, “You cannot come here without your high-viz vest, where is it?”
“I don’t have one, they used t…..”
“This is a very busy warehouse with lots of traffic; you cannot deliver here without one. Have you been here before?”
“Well yes but it was a while ago, last time they gave me a vest which I gave back to the…..”
“We do not have to supply you with a high-viz vest, why do you not have one?”
“errr, because, errr, “ I was getting flustered now, I wasn’t given time to explain, “can they not just give me one until I go out again?”
“No, we do not have any!”
“Oh, ok, sorry but I don’t have one!”
“Then you will have to put that back on your van and return when you get one. Were you not told any of this?”
“Well, no, you see I do not normally do……”
“I suggest you tell your boss that he needs to supply you with a high-viz vest,” he then addresses the other man, “see,” he says. The other man shrugs his shoulders and grins at me like I am some kind of nasty criminal, “typical!” he sighs. Now they have patronised me, sneered at me and treated me like a naughty school child they stood there like marine officers, glaring at me until I got back in my van and drove to the gate. The security guard sneered at me and raised the barrier.
I took the order back and I was instructed to leave it, “they will have to wait for it now,” the boss told me and I went off to do my normal run. Minutes later they called the shop again screaming for their order!
Is it just me or has the world gone mental? Give a man a title like “health and safety manager,” a clipboard, a high-viz vest and the power of a thousand Hitlers goes to their head? While I except that rules are rules, and the high-viz vest is needed in this working environment they could have just loaned me one for the duration of my visit which would have been about 1.5 minutes. Bureaucracy gone mad, I cry. The high-viz vest is fast becoming symbolic of class, of the importance of your position within your employment. It is a bit like I believe they have in the US, dubbed “the blue collar worker,” the high-viz vest is not about safety, if one of those forklift trucks rides head-on into me would it cushion the blow, would it save my life? The high-viz vest is a pest, it can get caught up in production machinery, I know as it has happened to me. If you think your employer cares for your safety when he issues you with the health and safety regulations you are very much mistaken. Once you have signed to say you comprehended them they are then free from any lawsuit you may throw at them after your accident if you so much as deviate from the rule book just slightly. The high-viz vest does not protect you; it only protects them from you.
So now days it is seen as a working class symbol, the blokes on the shop floor that don’t count for much. Slap a high-viz vest on them and you can see where they are, oh skiving in the rest room again huh?
Everyone has them on unless you are in a position of power enough to warrant not entering a high risk area. Directors, they get away with it, it might clash with their pink ties. The high-viz vest, where would we be without it. Indiana Jones would never have escaped that big boulder these days without his high=viz vest. Superman could never have lied across those railroad tracks when the train went over him without his vest could he?
I say, ok, the high-viz vest has its place but please, calm down, get a life you dumb ass health and safety officers for if you didn’t get your lunch until late because you sent away the delivery man I would only laugh at the rumbles in your tummy!
Mind you, it may not just be here in the UK, here are some Spanish hookers being safe and seen!