Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yellow is the Colour of my True Love's Hi Viz Jacket...

Whilst driving through town today I noticed a group of about 20 schoolchildren all about 11 or 12 years old, getting on a bus.

The sun was blazing, there was not a cloud in the sky and it was absolutely baking hot; but every one of them was wearing a luminous vest. I was so amazed that I almost ran over one of their teachers (who was looking utterly ridiculous in her own bright yellow high-viz jacket.)

I am well aware that there is a battle going on between the Health and Safety Officials who say that schools deliberately misinterpret their rules and the schools who put the blame on them.

So, can anyone tell me:

a) Why are kids wearing these crazy things?
b) Why do the teachers not have enough dignity not to?


crowlord said...

More than my jobs worth guvna. Says 'ere yellows jackets to be worn so we wear em.

LB said...

Maybe it's the easiest way to ensure the kids wear theirs - if the staff have to insist that the kids wear them for safety then any smart(mouthed) kid worth their salt is going to say 'How come YOU don't have to Miss?'

CFM said...

Were the kids also in uniform? Our school organises a freanch trip each year and in the cost is the price of a school t-shirt that they have to wear in Eurodisney so they can be spotted easily in the crowd. If it's a school without a uniform then maybe this is why they have the vests. Cheap, easily transferable for another trip and very visible.
It could also be down to some H&S nutter though.


Anonymous said...

These incidents of madness are hardly ever down to 'Health and Safety' it's almost always insurance.

There's probably a clause in the school's insurance policy that says that kids and teachers must wear hi vis jackets when boarding the school bus, so that's that.

Anonymous said...

I could understand the complaint if the jackets being worn were restrictive, overly hot, or the group were indoors, or all responsible adults.

But you're talking about a group of kids, outdoors, wearing a light, non-restrictive additional bit of clothing that, just possibly, might save their life. I mean - you saw them, didn't you? In fact, your attention was drawn to them, thus making it statistically much less likely that you'd mow them down. And whatever you say, the statistical probability that you'd mow them down is not zero.

You might notice quite a few motorcyclists ride around in full daylight with their headlights on. This is because they know that you, the distracted, ignorant car driver, are less likely to kill them if they have their light on, because you're more likely to consciously notice them. Are they to be similarly derided?

As a chartered engineer, I'm quite often baffled and a bit frustrated by this sort of "it's 'elf and safety gawn maaaad!" waffle. How awful indeed, some health and safety nutter was trying to protect children from being hit by traffic. What next? Laws against them being f**ked by the teachers?

Gordon said...

Dear Anonymous @ 08:27 - there is a law for that; it extends the legal age of consent from 16 to 18.

Anonymous said...

Er... yes, I know. That was what we engineers sometimes call a "joke". Not a very good one, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Also I suppose I should, if I'm posting here, respond to the direct questions:

a) Why are kids wearing these crazy things?

They're no more "crazy" than eye protection in a laboratory or steel-toed boots in a warehouse. Kids are wearing them because adults (well, some adults) want to reduce the number of kids getting killed by passing motorists.

b) Why do the teachers not have enough dignity not to?

Speaking as someone who wears PPE at work every day, I fail to see how wearing a hi-vis vest at work is in any way compromising one's dignity, any more than, say, wearing a hard hat on a building site or a seat belt in a car.

Perhaps the teachers in question aren't so precious about their appearance.

Fee said...

There was a time when a hi-vis vest made people look. Now they are absolutely everywhere, they just don't attract the same level of attention. If it is health & safety, it hasn't spread north (yet).

Except to a nearby private nursery which takes the kids out for a stroll every day, and has them kitted out in hi-vis vests (really, really tiny ones) and also has them attached to a staff member with a wrist strap. Two children per staff member, one on either side, and off they go to look at the swans. Being tiny kids though, they have a tendency to veer off in their own direction, meaning the poor girls (and they ARE all girls) in charge have to try to one-handedly tug them back, without causing them to fall over. Makes me smile!

MarkUK said...

As Health & Safety Officer at a large secondary school, perhaps I'm in a good position to comment.

Firstly, I would expect teachers to set an example so if the kids are to wear hi-vis then the teachers should.

Secondly, my belief is that H&S should be as unrestrictive as possible, but no more so.

I would not expect children over 11 to have to wear hi-vis. Definitely not teenagers, as they're invincible. Primary schoolkids may well benefit from hi-vis.

I'd rather concentrate on real H&S issues, like whether we can get all the kids out if the school catches fire, like whether we're training them to handle chemicals correctly. I would like the staff to be aware of how to prevent back injury (theirs) and to recognise the dangers of residential trips (kids').

Dan said...

Anon engineer: my problem with most of this stuff is simple.

Firstly, it stops people thinking for themselves. Stick hi-vis on everyone and they think they're magically protected. Much, much better to concentrate on getting the kids to be traffic aware.

Secondly, this is the end of a line which starts with meetings and committees and experts drawing up endless safety rules and undertaking enormous risk assessments before we do anything. It's paralysing the country, economically and socially, and for that reason alone it's bad.

There's some well-known research on safety belts. Since they were made mandatory, there have been more road accidents. People relax, thinking they're safe. In fact, it's only better design and better A&E techniques which have kept the death rate fairly constant.

Truth is, as an economist once said, a spike in the middle of the steering wheel would save many more lives than any number of seatbealts. He was not seriously advocating spikes on steering wheels, but you get the point.

Anonymous said...

I'm fully aware of the human performance and limitation factors inherent in providing personal protective equipment, and of the dangers of providing passive safety equipment in an environment where active safety management and risk assessment is preferable. Stopping people thinking for themselves is indeed a risk in itself.

However, what you're apparently advocating is allowing a bunch of teenagers to take full responsibility for their own risk assessment and active safety management when out and about in a large group supervised only by a few adults. Since you obviously cannot trust them to do so (this IS obvious, right? See comment above about teenagers being invincible...) then providing and making mandatory non-restrictive passive safety equipment is the least worst option.

Additionally, allowing people to think for themselves is fine if the risks are entirely within their control, e.g. when doing DIY in the home. But out in the real world, nobody is in full control of all the risks. Some passive safety is therefore prudent.

Von Spreuth. said...

Not only Britain. They have started to appear here in berlin as well over the last month.

Must be some E.U thing.

Putting odd chemicals into the water or somethinmg.

Von Brandenburg-Preußen.

Von Spreuth said...

You might notice quite a few motorcyclists ride around in full daylight with their headlights on. This is because they know that you, the distracted, ignorant car driver, are less likely to kill them if they have their light on, because you're more likely to consciously notice them. Are they to be similarly derided?


I have ridden motorcycles since I was 16 (Now 49), both as a civy and on police duty. Any one who willingly rides with headlight in daylight is an idiot.

It has been shown time and time again that other road usesr mistake the distance and speed of a motorcycle (and a car by the way), to a point where it is fataly dangerous for both.

(Ask the Motorcycle Action Group in G.B what THEY think of day light headlights).

Von Brandenburg-Preußen.

MarkUK said...

I'd rather not ask the Motorcyclist's Action Group anything as they campaigned against the helmet law.

I don't have anything against bikers riding with headlights on, as it helps me judge their speed and distance. However guys, dipped lights please - full beam can dazzle even during daylight.

Von Spreuth. said...

MarkUK said...

I don't have anything against bikers riding with headlights on, as it helps me judge their speed and distance.

Wrongly, as the figures produced by the British motor insurance association, which is what the M.A.G used as evidence for their campaign, show.

And how many dead moptorcyclists have YOU wipped up off the motorway? And how many murderes (Sorry "car drivers) have you interviewed later that TELL you that they misjudged speed and distance BECAUSE the motorcycle had it's lights on?

It is my JOB.

Von Brandenburg-Preußen.

MarkUK said...


It's better to be seen, even if judgement is impaired (though in MY case I disagree, even if it is true for the majority) than not to see the motorcyclist at all.

Many years ago, some research was carried out (can't remember any details of who or where) that showed drivers found it hard to "see" vehicles much smaller than their own. Obviously the eye sees the vehicle but the brain doesn't process it - the smaller vehicle is not seen as a threat.

That's why many motorists don't see bikes, and some artic drivers have trouble with small cars.

MadOldBat said...

It's all very well to mock distaste for O Hand S but that distaste has several practical roots. One , as someone has pointed out here , is that there is (apparently- I have only heard second hand) research that suggests that as you make the environment safer, people who risk take simply take greater risks e.g. children in playgrounds with that black rubber stuff climb more recklessly than those on tarmac. More worryingly (and I did-years ago I think- read this in the BMJ) there is the group who will not undertake the activity because of the hassle or because the perceived danger - it is thought that the reduction in paediatric pedestrian deaths by motor vehicles has declined dramatically over the years NOT because of safety measures but because children do not walk in the streets anymore.Similarly many people will not cycle.It has been argued that the overall decrease in the health of the nation judged by life years lost is higher with these safety interventions.

DefunctyMetcunty said...

Stop whinging, Teach.

You REALLY are a disgrace to your soi-disant "profession"

Steve said...

If it makes you feel any better, all of the research published so far shows that (in other than fog) high visibility clothing does absolutely no good anyway.

If someone is going to drive into you it doesn't matter what colour you are wearing.

Of course the H&S bigots don't believe this. They know.

Steve said...

MadOldBat (12:08)

Not so mad. In fact absolutely correct. Seat belts are the best researched piece of safety equipment. They save no lives, increase the number of accidents and kill quite a few pedestrians and cyclists. The research papers are unequivocal.

The reason is that the very fact that you are using safety equipment changes you behaviour. This is known as risk compensation. Other research with similar findings covers helmets (cycling and motorcycling) and anti-lock breaks. It is probable that most safety measures are similarly affected.

Anonymous said...

"road users mistake the distance and speed of a motorcycle"

Probably because they're going at twice the speed limit - it's outside the range of what you get used to, so it's much more likely to deceive, and therefore cause an accident.

Just saying.