I’ve been on two training courses provided by CRT to teach us volunteers about Health and Safety and Basic Fire and Water Life Saving. I know we all like to moan about the restrictions and delays and costs produced by compliance to H&S but if I’m honest the trainer made a pretty good case for it. Our ancient canal environment is an accident waiting to happen and having seen some of the video nasties they showed us, and learned of the subsequent huge costs of accidents and draconian legal penalties, I have to admit it’s a bloody nuisance sometimes but you can’t ignore it.
I suppose that was the main substance of the course really. There wasn’t a lot of practical stuff. Looking after lifejackets and how to wear them properly, different kinds of fire extinguisher and what to use them for, handling throwing lines – all these were dealt with, but I also did them on the RYA helmsman course they put us through. I had been told we would get to use a fire extinguisher on a real fire, but apparently they don’t do that now. One thing I did enjoy was having a go at CPR resuscitation on a dummy. No mouth to mouth these days, just compression and all that. I would be a lot more confident to do it now.
As well as a few volunteers on the course there were also a few CRT lads, mostly in their twenties – the ones you see up and down the canal fixing stuff. It was interesting to share with them. They were larking around a bit and asking some daft questions, but underneath all that they were pretty serious about safety at work and a few of them could recall near misses. I think the course worked on them too.
As an aside a few of the lads remarked about the abuse they get from some boaters, although I pointed out that a lot of us boaters find the CRT workers pleasant and helpful. I think most of them were working on the Regents and the Lee and Stort where there are a lot of boaters at war with officialdom. I can’t see why these boaters should take it out on maintenance guys though.
A pity we didn’t do anything specific on safe manual lifting. The other day I pulled a back muscle lifting a box of logs and it’s taking a while to settle down. Now here’s a tip you might not know. I mentioned my back to the doctor yesterday when I was in for a cholesterol medication review and a flu jab. She said it was good practice to keep taking the pain killers for a muscular back problem. A lot of people, including me, think that masking the pain might lead to bad movement and further injury, but she said that using pain killers relaxes the back and it heals better, without the associated stiffness caused by bracing the rest of the back against sudden movement. I think she’s right, my back and shoulders have been very uncomfortable from me trying not to move too much.
There you are. Don’t say I don’t teach you anything.