Friday, 21 September 2007

Knitted house a possible hazard

Here is a story that a few years ago would have seemed unbelievable but in today's health and safety environment is perhaps not so strange.

Visitors to the Atlantic Village shopping centre at Bideford in North Devon have been able to see an extraordinary knitted house where everything except the door and window frames is made of wool. It has a floor area of 140 square feet, big enough for a person to get inside. The knitted squares, which include furniture made of wool, have been made by enthusiasts from around the world and the idea of displaying it was to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and the North Devon Hospice. Sadly it is having to be taken down as it is deemed to be a fire hazard.

Apparently the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service were asked to look at it from a safety point of view. They had to give the honest answer that it was a possible fire hazard as the 'house' was not flame retardant. So the house has to go.

Now I don't know just where the knitted house was in the shopping complex but under the present legislation it would be a non smoking area I would think. I cannot believe that the fire hazard was any greater than going into a greeting cards shop, a video rental shop or a store selling paint. If the authorities were concerned about someone being inside if it caught fire then I would think people could be stopped from entering and restricted to looking through the windows. My take on it is that the management of Atlantic Village were over zealous about asking for safety advice unless of course some meddling member of the public posed the question in the first place. Once the fire service got involved they had to give an honest assessment and Atlantic Village would have had to react or risk their insurance if by that million to one chance there was a fire.

'Health and Safety' concerns have reached absolutely ridiculous levels. It's about time they realised that some microscopic amount of risk in life has to be accepted. Where is it all going to end?

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