Canadian Contractor
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Where’s Personal Responsibility?


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April 4, 2012 by Steve Maxwell

A roll of PEX pipe I ordered a while back arrived in a carton that makes me worried. A 15 word warning is the reason why. It highlights a creeping menace that’s making it harder for risk-takers to make things happen in the real world — including professionals who build and renovate. Printed right next to the oval hand hole cutouts on the PEX carton were these words: “No hand hole, access hole only. Use as hand hold is at users own risk.”

Legal warnings about cardboard hand hole hazards are ridiculous on two counts and worrisome on a third. First, the oval holes were obviously made so you could grab the light but bulky 20 lbs carton and pick it up. Second, the idea that these holes could be used to “access” a stiff, coiled, bound roll of PEX is insane. The diameter of the pipe is bigger than the width of the oval. Short of looking inside to see if the pipe is actually there, what’s the point of “access”?

The worst thing about a cardboard hand hole warning is what it says about society. A world where companies need to protect themselves against hand hole lawsuits is a world where an unelected, unaccountable legal system has gone way too far in its quest to profit from absurd and debilitating litigation. This kind of dangerous nonsense isn’t just an American thing, either. As ideas of personal responsibility are shoved aside by the foolishness that passes the most basic personal risks back to employers and manufacturers, our world is left with more red tape, more legal hassles and less productivity. Why are we Canadians taking this kind of thing lying down?


Steve Maxwell

Steve Maxwell is the tools editor for Canadian Contractor magazine. You can follow him on his website (www.stevemaxwell.ca), on Facebook or via Twitter.
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