The Boiling Point of Safety

In the vast and varied world of health and safety, there are specific images that make you pause, scratch your head, and question the very fabric of common sense. One such image is the curious case of the instant boiling water system tap, adorned with a sticker that cheerfully suggests you wash your hands. Yes, you read that right. A boiling water tap encourages you to wash your hands. It’s like a sunbed advising you to get a tan – technically possible, but not without a side order of third-degree burns.

Now, don’t get us wrong. We’re all for hand hygiene. In fact, we’re the first to champion the cause of clean hands, especially in these pandemic times. But washing your hands with boiling water? That’s a bit like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. It’s not just ineffective; it’s downright dangerous.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the irony here. The sticker, presumably intended to promote health and safety, suggests a course of action that is anything but safe. It’s like a lifeguard telling you to dive headfirst into the pool’s shallow end, or a fire marshal suggesting you stop, drop, and roll… on a bed of nails.

But let’s not just laugh this off. While the image is undoubtedly humorous, it also highlights a serious issue. Health and safety advice needs to be accurate, clear, and appropriate. Misinformation, even when well-intentioned, can lead to harm. And in this case, it could lead to some very sore hands.

So, what’s the takeaway from this hot mess? First, let’s remember that boiling water is for tea, not for hand hygiene. Warm water and soap will do the trick just fine, thank you very much. Second, let’s ensure that health and safety advice is always grounded in fact, not in some twisted version of a practical joke.

And finally, let’s remember to keep our sense of humour. After all, in the world of health and safety, sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying. Or in this case, to keep from scalding your hands.

So, the next time you see a boiling water tap, remember: it’s great for a cup of tea, but not so great for washing your hands. And if you see a sticker suggesting otherwise, feel free to laugh, shake your head, and then promptly report it to be changed. Your hands will thank you.

Don’t wait till it’s too late! Prevent accidents from happening in your company, click here to find out more about our Health and Safety Risk Assessments.

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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