An open door for excuses?

4 Jul

The middle weekend of Wimbledon the temperatures soared and before the dial hit 33 degrees in London, I went to the gym to get a sweat-on inside before the sweat-on outside. The gym I use has low ceilings and is one of those buildings that can never get the temperature right: it’s either like lifting weights on a mountain in Patagonia; or running through the Sahara, and no in between.

Luckily, this is what doors and windows and are for. A woman on the cross-trainer asked for the double doors to be opened and they were. A gentle breeze wafted in and made the Sahara bearable. Then, as I was at the rowing machine, that breeze disappeared. I turned round and someone had shut the doors.

After finishing my rowing, I was next to the woman on the cross-trainer who was beetroot-like and panting.

“Why did they close the doors?” I asked.

“Health and safety they told me, bloody ridiculous!” she replied, fanning herself with a sweaty hand towel.

The gym is not on a floor 20 flights up. The double doors go onto a path which runs around the gym and not onto an open park which is easily accessible to the public. There are no dangerous chemicals being wafted about on that path and clearly no health and safety risks by having the doors open.

I and others made this point; common sense from the gym manager prevailed and we were finally treated to the comfortable breeze once again.

It would have made me smile had it not made me agree with the cross-trainer woman: ridiculous. A member of staff might have to remain in their place of work – the gym – to make sure those working out aren’t getting attacked by a swarm of hazards which has come through those open doors! It was also sad on one level: for someone who works in the realm of health and safety to hear it as the first excuse rolled out without a second thought.

Health and safety can be a convenient excuse, but it doesn’t always wash. Legislation is there for a reason, to protect. It is not the reason to say no to reasonable, common sense actions and activities.

Let’s not let the doors open only to let the health and safety excuses pour in. If we challenge the ridiculous, the wind can safely breeze through.

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