It’s a generational thing, driven by the fact that the modern world lives on process.
Simple example from last year. One of my mother’s friends was burgled, and they arrived back at the house with her to find the front door pried open. My mother and her friends thought nothing of it and were about to walk into the house to see what had been nicked, but their (adult) children stopped them, worried that a burglar might still be in there. The police were called. A PCSO turned up, but was similarly nervous about going into the house on their own. Mother is an impatient soul at the best of times, and had had enough and just waked up the path to the house. There was a brief “get out of my bloody way” interaction with the PCSO, she went in …. and 5 minutes later re-appeared at the front door saying no one was there and that the kettle was on.
So 2 adult children and a PCSO were cowering outside the house and the 88 year old went in and checked it out. But the 88 year old grew up in a world where you had to evaluate risk on a constant basis and when you got it wrong, it hurt. When she went for a walk as a child, the biggest risk was being eaten by a tiger (I am not joking, one of her friends was eaten). If something looked dangerous, it probably was, and you acted accordingly – if you didn’t, you died. My kids are growing up in a world where there is no danger, everything is guarded, railed off, fenced off.
A good friend of mine (sadly now deceased) was an ambulance driver in the 60s and 70s. He had a lot of stories, the one that made the biggest impression on me was him describing the Staines air crash. He was the second or third wagon on site, thought he was attending a fire, and was surprised to be wading about in kerosene looking for bodies. Once they’d realised there were no survivors, they spent the night ferrying bodies to a mortuary in Slough (I think). He got the day off as he’d been working all night, and was back on shift the following day. Not a big deal for him.
It’s a hard balance to strike – if you let people make decisions, then some of them will get hurt, and their bosses will take the heat. If you don’t let them make decisions, then you’re accused of being obsessed with health and safety, and the people you’re meant to be looking after get hurt. Eventually you end up with a load of policeman looking on while a someone drowns in a duck pond because they aren’t allowed to swim.