This Hazardous Life

Life is getting more and more hazardous. Even an ordinary stapler has hidden dangers. Recently I walked into the photocopying room at my workplace. I was about to staple a couple of pages together when I stopped in my tracks. Next to the stapler was a laminated sign. It read:

* Use correct size staples

* Keep fingers away from the business end of the stapler.

Was this a joke? I checked the calendar. No, it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. I looked behind me. A practical joker maybe? No. No-one there. I began to get worried. Maybe it was a new kind of stapler. One which I had never encountered before. I picked it up. It looked pretty much like the same old stapler I had been using for twenty years or more.

I began to look around the room. That’s when I spied it. There it was. Next to the guillotine. “Safety Operating Procedures”


*Do not place fingers near blade when using

*Keep all loose clothing clear of blades

*Always leave blade down after use.

Let me just remind you that this was a “paper” guillotine. Not the big head chopping variety used in the French Revolution. I am sure they would never have left the blade up after use. I reminded myself to make sure all my shirts and sleeves were tucked in next time I used it. You never know.

There was another sign next to the paper trimmer. I won’t bore you with the details but you can imagine what it said.

By now I was fascinated so I had a close look around the room to alert myself to any other hazards, and that was when I saw the HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES cupboard. It was padlocked! The mind boggled. What could it possibly hold? I had to see what was in it. Even though the doors were locked there was a slight gap where they hadn’t quite met. I bent down to have a closer look. No good, it was too dark. I got down on the floor and tried prying the doors open. They weren’t going to let me in on their secret. Well, I would just have to get the key.

After signing in blood for the key I returned to my position on the floor and opened the lock and the doors. There it was. The Hazardous Substance. Aquadere Glue. You know, the thick white glue that kindy teachers use to stick macaroni on to paper for their young charges. The glue that millions of people use every day for pasting paper, card and wood. Wondering what could be the danger in it, I read the label for some clues. There was no “ingredients” list. The closest I could discover was that it was PVA and Non-Toxic. This is what the padlock was for. But wait. There’s more. Stuck to the cupboard door was a plastic pocket with a sheet in it. “The Hazardous Substances Policy”. I should say three sheets. “Risk Assessment”. “Consequences of Risk Assessment”. “Using the Hazardous Substances”. Remember we are talking about craft glue here.

I locked the cupboard, returned the key and decided then and there that I would never again use the glue. Why? I didn’t want to fill in the three pages of risk assessment before I could even get it out of the cupboard. I have better things to do with my time. Besides, I have a sheet to fill out before I can use my hazardous White Out!

4 thoughts on “This Hazardous Life

  1. Jeanette & I loved this story. So typical of life in a government institution these days. You can imagine the problems I had in my workshop at the Uni with millions of chemicals and machines of all types. I was glad to leave the Uni when I did as during the last couple of years I spent my whole life doing electrical testing, risk assessments and operating procedures and seldom got to do real work!


  2. Here! Here! I can’t agree more. The world’s gone mad! Is it anything to do with the way the way the Americans are so quick to sue?

  3. Jeff and I loved this one ! Hilarious but true, this is what life is like these days ….

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