Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The buck stops where?

From Ras Al Khaimah comes the story that three people out for a stroll fell into an unmarked open manhole, having to be rescued by Civil Defence.

Gulf News says:

"The three expatriates were taking a walk in the neighbourhood with some of their friends on the day the incident occurred. They were not aware that there was a huge hole in the street and fell in, their friends said.

It raises an interesting point because in Australia, and most other western countries, there would be a court case against the authorities. Compensation payments amounting to possibly millions of dollars would be paid. Then there would be panic measures to make sure anything even vaguely likely to be a hazard was in future clearly marked so that even an idiot could recognise the 'danger'.

Here the onus is on the individual to be responsible for him/herself.

I must say I lean towards the latter - with the proviso that the perpetrators have some responsibility based on that most uncommon commodity, common sense. The west has gone too far one way, here we're too far the other. As always, the answer is somewhere in between.

An unprotected hole in a badly lit street isn't acceptable. A dangerous overhang isn't acceptable. But a warning on a hot-water tap that the water is hot is a step too far.

We have many examples in Australia of idiots who dive off bridges into a foot of water, obviously crippling themselves. They successfully sue the council concerned, being awarded millions, because there wasn't a warning sign in place. You know..."If you dive headfirst into a foot of water from a height of twenty feet you're likely to hurt yourself".

Let's not go to to those extremes, but I do think it's something the authorities here need to look at. Personal responsibility, yes. But also the enforcement of some sensible health & safety regulations.

The Gulf News story is here


secretdubai said...

Yeah - I favour personal responsibility - but the problem with this country is that they can build a huge great hole outside your villa in the middle of the night that your car drives into the next morning (or even falls into, if its sitting there parked and they dig too close) and they essentially stick two fingers up if you try to complain.

They put car parks on the other side of busy roads with no pedestrian crossing. They rope off areas providing no safe places for people to walk down a pavement (or cross). They leave construction items all over the place - some, such as breezeblocks - can't be seen from inside a car because they are so low.

There is, in short, a total disregard for public safety and worker safety, to the extent that no matter how much personal responsibility one takes, one is still at risk.

I will never forget the sight of dozens of business executives in suits trying to cross the road to DIEC and DIEC carparks and back, during recent exhibitions, with no crossing and constant traffic and blazing summer sun.

Tom said...

I agree personal responsibility, but the answer really is in the middle ground and people or companies that leave hazards need to be made accountable.

Dubai looks very interesting to me, I would love to visit it, sounds expensive for a family though.