The Honours students enrolled a couple of weeks ago and have already embarked on their projects. We ran through their risk assessments today.
Remember the old days — I'm thinking of last Thursday — when an assessment consisted of identifying the potential risks of a procedure (experiment, field trip, staff meeting) and working out ways in which those risks could be eliminated or, at least, minimized? All on one form. Okay, two. But no more than that.
Now, a risk assessment requires seven forms. The first one is my favourite**. It categorizes potential risks and tells you which of the other six forms are applicable. It doesn't have a section for field work but it does have a list of hazards that includes:
- Heat (e.g. fire, flames)
- Air conditioning
- Electromagnetic radiation
It does make yer think about how it used to be. When I was a postgraduate, we'd head off on field trips into the back of beyond without a first aid kit or radio*** and we'd often not even bother to let anyone know where we were going.
Not that it helped when we did. I recall a trip where someone insisted that we filed a travel plan with an estimated time of return. If we did not report back by that deadline, they'd alert the local authorities — such as they were. Anyway, we did run into difficulties in the shape of a couple of slack-jawed, banjo-playing nutters, who thought that giving us a hard time would be hilarious. One of the very few occasions when I've thought it would've been useful to have the rifle in the back of the Landcruiser****. In lieu of an armed response, we talked our way out of it and left. But because our departure was delayed by the half-witted hicks, we didn't get back until waaaaaay past the deadline … to find that the responsible person had buggered off and left us to our fate. That's one of the other times I hankered for the rifle*****.
Those days are over, which is just as well. But, really … gravity?
* Of course, you know it's not really the students I want to avoid.
** In a novel use of the word.
*** But we always remembered the beer.
**** Not with any great degree of seriousness, though.
***** See ****