The Icelandic Ash cloud and the subsequent shenanigans surrounding flying over it, through it, around it and under it, together with the decisions taken by a committee of 'experts' have just served to underline that we do now live in a world which has gone health and safety bonkers.
I am the first to admit that I am not an aeronautical whiz and that if someone tells me that if you fly into a cloud of ash you might fall out of the sky then I am in favour of not flying into it.
However, I don't think I was the only person to be slightly bemused to be told that not only could you not fly into it, you also couldn't fly in the opposite direction either. To question this logic is to become a 'health and safety denier', a person who has no thought or care for human life.
The ensuing turn around within a matter of hours from there being no open airspace to having all airspace open, despite the fact that the volcanic eruption continued unabated, should probably not have come as much of a surprise. It seems that once this panel of experts had been penetrated with good old fashioned common sense a bit of stiff questioning, it was safe after all.
Stories of Health and Safety madness are legion and I am sure we have all shaken our heads in disbelief at some of the more extreme examples reported in the press . As a property company we take health and safety matters seriously and conduct regular risk assessments on all our buildings - mixed in with a healthy dose of pragmatism and practical assessment.
The Ash cloud reminded me of an incident some years ago when we were responsible for the management of a very large business park with well over 4000 people working on site. A contractor was on site demolishing a boiler room and associated pipe work. I received a call from the site manager saying that one of the occupiers - a firm of health and safety experts - had reported a cloud of asbestos drifting across the site and that the Health and Safety Executive were on their way to close down the entire business park. Deep joy.
You can therefore imagine my surprise - and relief- when the results of the initial samples were given. Apple Blossom.