by Dr Michael Johnston

Answer: Just one, as long as they’ve completed a Job Safety, Environmental Analysis and Risk Assessment, a COVID-19 Workplace Safety SmartForm and an Electrical Safety Certificate.

One of our Insights readers recently found himself the butt of this real-life joke when he hired an electrician to replace a lightbulb – one that was, admittedly, in a room with an unusually high ceiling.

The issuance fee for the certificate alone comprised nearly 10% of the invoice for the job. One might suspect that the labour involved in the electrician filling in the paperwork, charged at $84 per hour, was greater than that of actually installing the new light.

In these perilous times one can’t be too careful. The acute risk posed by electricians changing lightbulbs is just one of many things we should worry about. For example, there’s also the risk of being traumatised by maverick members of the fourth estate.

Veteran journalist and former editor of Wellington’s Dominion newspaper Karl Du Fresne recently gave a talk at Victoria University of Wellington. He spoke mostly about what he sees as a decline in journalistic standards. While Du Fresne’s talk might sound innocuous, he is, apparently, a dangerous man.

Thankfully we have the student paper Salient to warn us of the egregious risk inherent in listening to jaded journalists. Their write-up of the event commenced with a ‘trigger warning’: “This article examines some of the racist, transphobic, sexist, and otherwise harmful content discussed at the event in question. Please exercise caution when reading”.

Oddly, the article didn’t elaborate on any of the racist, transphobic or sexist things Du Fresne was alleged to have said. In fact, I was present at the talk and, having heard him say nothing of the sort, I have an uncharitable suspicion that the Salient author didn’t actually attend. But better safe than sorry when it comes to the promulgation of potentially traumatic ideas.  

A hundred and fifty years ago, all we had to worry about was petty stuff like war, famine and widespread maternal death in childbirth. Now we face wicked threats like lightbulb changing and marauding curmudgeons like Du Fresne. We should be grateful for Electrical Safety Certificates, which deal with the former problem. Now it’s time to require all published opinions and public talks to be accompanied Psychological Safety Certificates, to deal with the latter.

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