I’ve just found a batch of papers I’d saved from my previous life working for a multinational chemical company. My last position there, before I left to embark on motherhood, was as the UK ‘SHE’ Coordinator – SHE being Safety, Health & Environment. I collated all the accident and injury figures from our sites across the UK, providing information to the UK board and European colleagues. I also managed the UK H&S defensive driving programme for all our company car drivers and, some might find this contentious in these times when we accuse the government of running a nanny state, I did a lot of promotion of ‘Off the Job Safety’. The company believes that safety off the job is as important as that on the job, and was very keen to encourage employees (and their families) to apply their work safety mindset at home too. Of course, as well as being good for your health, it improves productivity and the bottom line not having people off injured through accidents outside work.
I used to get an awful lot of information for creating snappy posters and writing articles for newsletters promoting safety off the job from the wonderful statistics that the HSE used to publish every year – the number of people that were injured by socks – ie falling over and breaking their ankles while putting socks on, that sort of thing. Sometimes, for fun though, I turned my attention elsewhere, as the article from the 1990s reproduced below (hopefully) shows:
I should warn you at this point, that I am still involved in the world of Health & Safety at the school where I work. I do take it seriously, but not in a silly, banning conkers type way. I am notoriously thin-skinned about ‘elf & safety’ jokes against Health & Safety professionals and, however silly they have been, I don’t like people getting hurt.
That said – please do join in the fun – I hope you’ll find some of the text below excruciating and think of some more songs with a H&S link!!!
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Pop Goes Safety! A strictly tongue in cheek safety audit of the British single and album charts
The Ventures earn the title of most safety conscious band for their No 8 instrumental hit from 1960 – Walk Don’t Run – clearly a group that knew our credo, unlike Elvis Costello – his song Accidents Will Happen was a minor hit in ’79, just scraping into the top thirty. Well, they will happen if you Break the Rules as Status Quo did in their ’74 top ten hit – but this could have resulted in making them Accident Prone a few years later, for their only reached No 36 with this song.
The best advice for car owners in the whole charts came from Tony Christie who sang Drive Safely Darling in 1976 – it seems that few took heed though as it only for to No 35. Higher placings resulted for Cyndi Lauper who sang I Drove All Night, which could have had her Crawling from the Wreckage like Dave Edmunds in ’79. Driver training might help Suede‘s parents as someone spotted Daddy Speeding [not sure it was that kind of ‘speeding – Ed] on their second album, and David Bowie sang about someone who was Always Crashing in the Same Car on one of his long-players too.
Wearing of personal protective equipment gets more coverage…
- EYES: – Johnny Nash‘s hit I Can See Clearly Now could be the result of cleaning his safety glasses. You can’t work without protective eyeshields if you share T.Rex‘s Laser Love, else you could be Blinded by the Light like Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (top ten in 1976).
- FEET:- Nancy Sinatra sounds like a girl who wears sensible shoes in These Boots Are Made For Walking until you remember the publicity photos of thigh-highs with huge heels – more like Honor Blackman‘s Kinky Boots! Certainly not suitable footwear for doing The Safety Dance, a top ten hit in ’83 for Men Without Hats – now there’s a band who’d never get a job on a building site!
- HANDS:- Des O’Connor had Careless Hands in 1964 – he should have been more like Sandie Shaw who had a hit with The Smiths‘ song Hand in Glove (of course not Barefootin‘ it this time as Robert Parker did in 1966). For, as we and the Travelling Wilburys all know, Handle With Care is the motto for all dealings with The Nolans – and their 1981 hit Chemistry.
The disco era in the 70s had a lot to answer for with bands like Heatwave singing Slip Your Disc to This and Liquid Gold with Dance Yourself Dizzy. Combined with The Motors’ Dancing the Night Away you too, like Andy Fairweather Low could end up in the top ten, but be Wide Eyed and Legless back in 1975, or Stumblin’ In like Suzi Quatro in ’78, which also stumbled in the charts too at No 41.
Winter pursuits can be dangerous – particularly for the inexperienced: Jethro Tull were Skating Away On the Thin Ice of a New Day in a mid-70s album track, and Yoko Ono was just Walking on Thin Ice too in her only solo chart entry, Slippin’ and Slidin’ like hubby John Lennon from his Rock’n’Roll album maybe. An accident for either could have meant hypothermia, ending up Cold as Ice like Foreigner in 1978.
Nick Lowe reached no 7 with I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass in 1978 – he and Hazel O’Connor with her album should heed Rod Stewart‘s No 1 advice from the year before with The First Cut is the Deepest when clearing it up. Finally, a word of advice for those of you Pink Floyd fans who like a roaring wood fire – Careful With That Axe, Eugene!
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(P.S. And to think I did all the above with just my trusty books of Guinness Hit Singles and Albums – no internet to search for song titles.)