back to article BOFH: I'm not doing this for the benefit of your health, you know

"Is he still there?" I ask the PFY, maintaining direct eye contact with him so that I can truthfully claim that I didn't see the Health and Safety guy hanging around the hallway to Mission Control like a bad smell. There's a new push in the company to make the place safer and unfortunately the push concerned doesn't involve …

  1. Esme


    That's it!

  2. eJ2095


    Started doing the "Safety Dance" late ron

  3. Cynical Observer

    Note to self -

    ... put coffee down

    " the infinite patience of the mentally deficient."

    Bravo sir!

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Note to self -

      That is going to quoted a lot.

      Top stuff!

    2. Adam Inistrator

      Re: Note to self -

      Reminds me of a John Le Carre character's observation, Smiley I think, about the capacity of violent minds for menial work.

  4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Laminated Glass here :(

    I once made the mistake of reporting I banged my head under a desk and cut my finger on some cardboard, now I have to wear a special padded hat which falls off if I need to get under a desk and gloves when moving cardboard.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Laminated Glass here :(

      I was once asked it I'd read the safety manual - apparently this was listed as mandatory for all employees in another manual that was restricted* - so I quipped that I had received a paper cut while reading it. A few days later the delivery man got a hernia bringing the new laminated version round to everyone.

      * I'd swear some companies model themselves on Dean Warmer from Animal House and run things on a permanent 'Double Secret Probation Level' so they can instigate wild-cat strikes during the rugby world cup.

      1. earl grey

        Re: Laminated Glass here :(

        Upvote for Dean Warmer reference.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Laminated Glass here :(

          I had to handle cryogenics (liquid Nitrogen etc) so was sent on a cold-something-something safety course. Great day out at the Scott-Polar institute listening to stories about being trapped in crevasses, how to put up a tent in a blizzard - nothing about liquid nitrogen but I got a certificate.

  5. eJ2095

    For the nice people across the pond

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: For the nice people across the pond

      Knowledge is Good

    2. Cubical Drone

      Re: For the nice people across the pond

      Why did you do that!! After many years and gallons of alcohol I had managed to blot that song from my memory. Now it is back. You are evil!!

      1. Jimboom

        Re: For the nice people across the pond

        @Safety Dance

        Argh! Stop making reference to it! It only makes it worse! I had a hard enough time getting it out of my head after watching the latest South Park episode. Although for the very fact Mr Garrison f**ks Donald trump to death, it was worth it.

    3. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: For the nice people across the pond

      My wife acts just like that girl in the video, however she isn't very patient...

      ..but I am. Oh.

    4. The Vociferous Time Waster

      Re: For the nice people across the pond

      The band is Canadian.

      1. Mark York 3 Silver badge

        Re: For the nice people across the pond

        I didn't know that,explains the frequent airplay over here in Canada (really loathe the remix version that usually gets played).

        I usually spend a lot of time trying to figure out if that actually is rural England in the video & where, so I finally googled it, West Kington, near Chippenham.

        Icon - A Clever Man With A Hat.

    5. Demonix

      Re: For the nice people across the pond

      Wandered off to follow the link, 1 hour later and I am all eightied out.

  6. Simon B

    Fantastic :D had me grinning from start to end!

  7. Paul Smith


    H&S provides so many opportunities for creative mayhem that just chucking him out the windows seems a bit, I don't know, lame?

    1. Chris King

      Re: Meh...

      Depends on the windows.

      I can throw my office windows so far open, I can defenestrate people without them even touching the frame or the pane.

      (Not that I've tested this, you understand)

      1. John 110

        Re: Meh...

        You've got windows! Bastard!!

    2. john bertelsen

      Re: Meh...

      I think the PFY hit him with a phone book fired out of the ether cannon built into his filing cabinet. Pushing out the window without either pyrotechnics or electricity (cattle prod) is lame.

  8. Chris King

    Obligatory safety video

    An old, old internet classic. Looks like an ordinary safety video until about the 2nd accident - the one with the knife.

    (Jump to 2:10 if you're impatient)

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Re: Obligatory safety video

      Oh my goodness.


      I think.

    2. The Original Steve

      Re: Obligatory safety video

      And who says the Germans don't have a good sense of humour - excellent. The last scene is something straight from a Final Destination film!

    3. GregC

      Re: Obligatory safety video

      @Chris - you beat me to it :) Still brilliant.

  9. BenBell

    Thankyou, Again!

    I said it last week and I'll say it again - You've saved the sanity of our team on yet another maintenance Friday.

    Instead of changing backup tapes, checking reported disk failures etc while making boring small talk about the coming weekend - we are instead trying to come up with the most imaginative way to kill a H&S rep :)

    God bless you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thankyou, Again!

      we are instead trying to come up with the most imaginative way to kill a H&S rep

      It is called "creatively managing H&S headcount". From what I hear, "murdering" is frowned upon, even of H&S staff. Always maintain plausible deniability :).

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    H&S officers are for everybody's benefit


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: H&S officers are for everybody's benefit

      yes, they provide no end of entertainment.

      Or targets.

  11. Maverick


    "NOT A FAT FIRE!" he counters.

    "Well, if the Boss spontaneously combusts I'll keep that in mind," the PFY continues.

    awesome and a new keyboard required

    1. Toltec

      Re: fat

      "NOT A FAT FIRE!" he counters."

      The safety elf missed magnesium, much more likely to be present in a server room...

      Surprised the BOFH does not have any Chlorine Triflouride to hand as well, though being pushed out of a window is the kinder alternative.

  12. Chris King

    They just don't think...

    A couple of years ago, I received a H&S questionnaire that asked some truly bizarre questions

    One of the questions asked if I stored chemicals in my office. One of the boxes was for "organophosphate-based nerve agents".

    I found myself wondering what would happen if I ticked that box - would they send in a team to decontaminate the building, or make me sit through ?

    1. John Miles

      Re: One of the boxes was for "organophosphate-based nerve agents".

      Well did you have any? Or perhaps they just think you may be storing a can of fly spray

      weird questions are sometimes to check people read boring questions properly

      1. Chris King

        Re: One of the boxes was for "organophosphate-based nerve agents".

        This particular question did actually mention VX, Tabun and Sarin as examples.

        Some of our LAN rooms have suffered insect infestations in the past, but we've never had to resort to anything quite so extreme !

    2. My-Handle Silver badge

      Re: They just don't think...

      On this note, our company's old leave system required that you select a reason for absence in the case of sick leave. This list included (and this is by no means exhaustive in it's ridiculousness) Scarlet Fever, the Plague and Smallpox. Methinks that if someone genuinely ended up in a position where they had to legitimately select that box, the company might have a little more to worry about than filling in the correct paperwork.

      This old system was retired two weeks ago with a new one that actually worked at a reasonable speed. Did they take the opportunity to write up a new, sensible list, or did they just inherit the list from the old system? Go on, take a wild guess.

  13. Robert Sneddon

    Use the right equipment for the job

    Taping the grip of a CO2 extinguisher is fraught with danger, there's a risk someone could undo the tape in time. Cable ties, now... They're also good for bypassing those bothersome "grip safety" cutouts on chainsaws and the like, tape peels off when it gets soggy with, uh, "fluids". Or so I conjecture.

    1. Toltec

      Re: Use the right equipment for the job

      Remember to use the stainless steel ones, they will not melt...

  14. Matthew 3


    It's always fun to deliberately trip over a 'Caution: wet floor' sign and then complain about the hazard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: H&S

      I once witnessed a chef run through a kitchen, slip on a wet floor and crack his ribs on a wet floor sign. It was a glorious day.

      1. Esme

        Re: H&S

        During my very first job as a mainframe operator, H&S noticed that there wasn;t a First Aid kit in the computer suite, so they installed one. Unfortunately, they installed it on the outside wall of our office within the computer room, which formed one wall of a not too wide corridor with an IBM 4381 forming the other side of the corridor. There was a lot of white and grey in our computer suite, and the First aid box was white, with a wee red cross on, and mounted on the wall at head height.

        We'd never had an accident up to that point. The very first shift after they'd installed the First Aid kit, I spotted that the backup job my colleague had started was about to need a second tape, dashed enthusiastically (hey, I was a newbie PFY, I got over it eventually!) out of the office door, sharp right to go and change the ..CLANNNNNG!! - and very nearly knocked myself out. I later had the fun of dutifully filling in the accident book explaining how I'd injured myself on the badly-positioned First Aid kit. Bizarrely, H&S refused to move the thing to somewhere safer. It did keep me alert for dangers around me, I suppose...

        1. rhydian

          Re: H&S

          Speaking of H&S and first aid kits...

          My old man works for an Utility company (water), and at one water treatment works they had some H&S bods (they hunt in pairs) turn up and inspect. They clocked the First Aid box, and after inspecting it, fastened it shut tight with a cable tie "seal".

          My old man goes over and asks "why have you tied the First Aid box shut?"

          Bods say "Its so we can tell if someone uses the First Aid box"

          My old man then raises the following issue "How do I get in to this sealed First Aid box? Especially with a hand injury?"

          Bod goes "You have scissors on site?"

          And my old man says, with a beaming smile "Yes we do, a really good set as well. They're in the First Aid box..."

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: H&S

          I would pry it out of the wall with my own bloody hands, (actually bloody from the head injury, probably) with bolts and everything, throw a hissy fit with the Health Department blokes, and probably throw the First Aid cabinet in their general direction, while cursing their sorry asses to the 5th generation. And tell them to shove that thing outside of people's head's general path.

          But that's just me.

          Well, I once actually got the bathroom cabinet over the sink to fall on my head due loose bolts, except it was nobody's fault but my own for the lack of maintenance... It still hurt, and opened a nice bleedy gash on my forehead... Still got me really angry about it.

    2. A K Stiles

      Re: H&S @Matthew 3

      Were you in our office kitchen this morning? Tripped over the unexpected wet floor sign in the middle of the floor, and it (the floor, and in fact also the sign) wasn't even damp!

    3. Chris King

      Re: H&S

      If someone leaves a bucket next to the sign, I do sometimes find myself wondering if the sign is a warning or an instruction...

  15. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    H&S fail

    I was visited by our corporate H&S bod a couple of years ago. The inspection included a review of how I used my PC, and I actually failed the assessment for incorrect use of the mouse.

    That was actually one of the proudest moments of my 30+ year career in the IT industry

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: H&S fail

      I'm intruiged - how does one use a mouse wrongly?

      I can think of several things, but none of them really come under the term use - nore misuse (things like tying the cor round an H&S bod's neck...

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: H&S fail

        "I'm intruiged - how does one use a mouse wrongly?"

        I was using the scroll wheel to scroll up and down through documents. Apparently that's the wrong way to do it.

        What you're supposed to do is *press* the scroll wheel, move the mouse forwards/backwards to scroll through the document, and then press the scroll wheel again to go back to normal mouse operation.

        Or, you could choose to tell them to shove the H&S nonsense up their arse, point out that you were using a mouse before they were even born, can remember when the scroll wheel was introduced and have been using it like that ever since then.

        1. Number6

          Re: H&S fail

          I just tried that here[*], has no effect. Back to using the wheel. Are you supposed to hold the wheel down while scrolling or is it an on-off operation?

          [*] Well, it's Friday afternoon, provides some light relief.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: H&S fail

          "What you're supposed to do is *press* the scroll wheel, move the mouse forwards/backwards to scroll through the document, and then press the scroll wheel again to go back to normal mouse operation."

          Since that method doesn't work on a Linux desktop does that mean that Linux desktops are banned by H&S? Hah! Year of the Linux desktop. Only over the cold dead bodies of the H&S reps!

          Wait....what? :-)

        3. Mr Flibble

          Re: H&S fail

          So… let me get this right.

          Middle-click, maybe inserting some text. Move the mouse a bit. Middle-click again, possibly once more inserting some text. Note that the text is inserted, in both cases, in some location near the mouse pointer.

          Okay. Well. Good thing that your H&S people cleared that one up.

      2. GregC

        Re: H&S fail

        I'm intruiged - how does one use a mouse wrongly?

        I visited a customer a couple of years ago and was stunned to see him using the mouse the 'wrong' way round - ie buttons towards him. Apparently it's just how he's always used them....

        1. DropBear

          Re: H&S fail

          "buttons towards him"

          So, ugh, how well was he coping with up/down and left/right reversing when you do that?

          1. Number6

            Re: H&S fail

            Either you configure it as a left-handed mouse or you just learn it that way. I'm left-handed and I normally use my left hand on the mouse but I learned to use a right-handed mouse. Otherwise I'd only be able to use my own computer and every other computer in the world would be a challenge.

            Plus it means I give the middle finger to every link I click...

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: H&S fail

      H&S visited everybody in the organization. She said my chair was too high, the armrests were in the wrong position and my secondary monitor too low. So, she proceeded to arrange my desk and chair accordingly. Before the door was closed upon her exit, I had "my" desk back the way I liked it.

      She's really a nice enough lady, and only doing what she was mandated to do, so no PFY accident for her. Her boss on the other hand is on my Richard Nixon list...

  16. 2Nick3

    "Looks like that email was a waste of my valuable time..."

    The number of times I think that a week is disturbing, but sadly never as much fun as reading it this time. Two thumbs up, and a toast in about 6 hours, for this week's BOFH!

  17. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Can't spell?

    Isn't it "ether" to explode and the "aether" to transmit error responses? Spelling these days ... tut tut


    1. A K Stiles

      Re: Can't spell?

      think you'll find that's spelled 'æther' ...okay, yes, I'm going

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Thumb Up

    Absolutely classic episode!

    Simon is on form

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Four H&S Inspectors = nightmare

    We often take students on work experience and the local schools arranged to get the local FE college to do the bi-annual H&S inspection early last year, no real problems he suggested a few straightforward sensible things.

    Then we decided to take on an apprentice with the same college providing the training. As the college thought (incorrectly) the apprentice would be doing more activities than the the work experience students they decided to reinspect. The new inspector made a few sensible suggestions and also wanted the opinion of a fire prevention officer.

    I have a close friend who is a full time domestic fire prevention officer he suggested a few things that we did.

    When the college reinspected two different inspectors came. They wouldn't accept what the fire officer said and wanted much more than the fire officer or previous college inspector.

    I then got a 'commercial premises fire officer' to inspect us who said that they rather than being very prescriptive

    and specifying X, Y & Z the FB policy is now to do a 'risk assessment' which meant that as the premises are small and only three employees that thing like having full exit sign-age which the college wanted was not appropriate. Eventually the college put in writing what they wanted which went yet further than what they had requested when touring the property including things like fire segmentation and a rest room for staff (Many lock up shops have to make do with a loo and a kettle)

    All in all what with other delays by the college trying to work out which course any apprentice should be on has meant we've missed out on last years and this years influx of potential apprentices.

    n.b. We've had over a hundred man years of work on the premises without a single accident, so I think we must be being effective in accident prevention.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four H&S Inspectors = nightmare

      We've had over a hundred man years of work on the premises without a single recorded accident, so I think we must be being effective in accident prevention hiding the bodies.

      Fixed it for you :)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When I was in PC support for the company I still work for (hence the Anon), they instituted and ergo program and made the desktop support techs responsible for it.

    Much to our chagrin,

    And telling them that don't need to do it even though it does involve their PC fell on deaf ears.

    I managed to waste about a months time not doing service calls and spend about 15 grand on ergo enhancements.

    But I did use the ticket system to log all of the ergo complaints and fixes. My numbers were still there, just not what they wanted the calls to be for.

    That program ended pretty soon after that.

  21. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Excellent stuff

    Especially when you've just had to put up with 1/2 a days "training" in the safe use of machinery from one of those yellow vested bastards(complete with stylish orange tint safety glasses in our case)

    Makes me wish I'd 'accidently' uploaded the skynet program to one of the robots instead of the tame picking/drop program I was made to put in.....

    1. Chris King

      Re: Excellent stuff

      Speaking of yellow jackets, work wanted me to become a Fire Warden.

      My response to this was fairly straightforward.

      "No. If this place goes up in flames, I'm leaping out and letting it burn, just like everybody else you've already asked."

      1. Chris King

        Re: Excellent stuff

        I linked to a "Red vs Blue" video in one of my other posts, but forgot that they'd done a Fire Safety PSA too...

        The 4th of July firework safety PSA is even funnier -

      2. Number6

        Re: Excellent stuff

        The fire warden is just tasked with checking that everyone has left the building (so you get to go look in the toilets) and then take a register once out so you know if anyone is missing. While you're busy doing that, the place is free to burn, and you've got an excuse that you had more important things to do at the time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Excellent stuff

          I used to just make eye contact with the fire warden -- so he knew I hadn't burnt to a crisp -- and then slope off to the pub, where he'd join me 30 seconds after finishing the register...

  22. TeaLeaf
    Thumb Up

    Thank You Simon

    A wonderful end to a work week from hell, partly caused by a fire safety inspector.

  23. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Needs more Yankovic version...

    You can watch Mr. Rogers

    You can watch Three's Company

    And you can turn on Fame or The Newlywed Game

    Or The Addams Family

    I say, you can watch Barney Miller

    And you can watch your MTV

    And you can watch till your eyes fall out of your head

    That'll be okay with me...

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Needs more Yankovic version...

      For those who've not heard it:

  24. imanidiot Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thank god for the BOFH

    Currently working a late shift, have to be here for the day shift tomorrow (get off at midnight, back at work at 7:00) with a massive headache and a throat like sandpaper. Getting a good BOFH story helps get me along.

    Oh how I wish I could "accidentally" flood the area with N2 while those clipboard wielding (anti-common sense) safety bods come along.

    And now the client wants me to do a training in "bolt awareness". Because just understanding how a bolt works is apparently not bleeding obvious...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Thank god for the BOFH

      >. Because just understanding how a bolt works is apparently not bleeding obvious

      But you have to learn to see it from the bolt's point of view - that's "bolt awareness"

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Thank god for the BOFH

        "But you have to learn to see it from the bolt's point of view - that's "bolt awareness""

        You mean "how to be screwed by a nut"? We get that from H&S already so "bolt awareness" is superfluous.

  25. sisk

    Oy, the fracking lux requirements. I'd gladly take out half the florescents in my office if I thought the janitorial staff wouldn't replace them that very night. I swear it's brighter in here than it is outside at noon on a clear summer day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just wait until they get rid of the mercury/sodium lamps and install the pasty-white/blue ones. You'll think the world is overexposed.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Oy, the fracking lux requirements."

      A lot of the places I visit, especially new/refurbished builds are lit poorly by LEDs or "efficient" fluorescent. I never needed to carry a torch to do my job until these new "lighting" systems became fashionable.

  26. Frumious Bandersnatch

    The replacement

    Isn't it time that the BOFH got his love life spiced up again (along with the associated BOFH-PFY rivalries that ensue)? Might I suggest that the replacement turns out to be rather pretty, or dare I say, an Elfin safety rep?


  27. Herby

    We on this side of the Atlantic...

    Have OSHA. Probably worse.

    A quick search of "Cowboy after OSHA" yields an interesting cartoon.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think of the children

    The next time one of these people tells me to think of the children, I'm calling the cops and accusing them of child abuse.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oh man oh man oh man

    "never attribute to malice that which can easily be explained by stupidity" - never truer than in H&S accidents.

    I've two really good stories - the first one is from years back, my very first paying job. It was an office-attached-to-a-warehouse setup, and at some point we all had to do a fire safety training. You know, muster points and all that lot. So, anyways, the instructor (he was in-house, not a consultant) says "ok, so if you see a fire, don't go putting it out. ring the alarm and run" Why? Apparently, in some time in the recent past, at another warehouse like ours, there had been a fire and some genius had thought to go grab the fire extinguisher... and then threw it into the fire.

    My current job (hence the anon) we had an incident a couple months back where a guy wanted to fasten a big structure better for lifting, and threw the line with the shackle attached up, over the structure. Except, the structure was some 7 m high, so it didn't really reach the top, and instead came right back down and hit the guy in the head. He was looking up, just like in a children's cartoon, so the fact that he was wearing his safety helmet did not save him from stitches.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: oh man oh man oh man

      I've watched this happen.

      Many, many years ago I worked a temp job that involved loading trucks. We would load the pallets then the fork operator would load them onto the truck. Then we would tie them down with ratchet straps. The drill was to check no one was on the other side (in practice by yelling "heads!") and throw the two inch wide strap with a half kilo steel hook over the load. You had to really hoof it to make sure it went over, otherwise you had to climb the load and retrieve the bugger.

      For three days we had one of those people who can do nothing right. Nice bloke, but everything he touched went wrong, sometimes with bloody results but fortunately only for himself. The final "incident" was him throwing the hook over while standing on the strap. It up went, snapped tight and came back down. He was looking up and it hit him right between the eyes. Funny in retrospect, not so much at the time.

  30. Dave 62

    What's an expresso machine?

    Editorial standards slipping, horiffic.

    Not sure what's worse, getting it wrong, or getting it wrong after getting it right.

  31. Richard Pennington 1

    One of my previous employers sent round a H&S person to check that desks and chairs were the correct height, and to supply footstools for my more vertically-challenged colleagues.

    I am well over 6 feet tall. I was just waiting for them to recommend digging a hole in the floor...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022