Every day in my role as occupational safety and health policy adviser at RoSPA, I am reminded of the toll of fatalities as a result of accidents and cases of occupational disease that didn’t have to happen.
In our daily news feeds, the names and ages of those affected are read and reflected upon. International Workers’ Memorial Day – #IWMD18 – provides a focus for all of us to stop and think about those individuals and their families affected, with some sense of frustration that, in the words of George Santayana, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
The loss of mothers, wives, sisters, fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, cousins, next door neighbours, your friends, work colleagues and those you don’t know are given a day of remembrance on April 28. Please take time out to reflect, as we need to free more lives from the impact of work-related accidents and occupational disease.
As part of this reflection, art can bring us face to face with those who have died and suffered as a result of working for a living – giant fists and a murmuration of garments express outrage at the Rana Plaza building collapse, and move us closer to the subject of workplace accidents and those who died.
Simple pavement chalk allows those who perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire to be remembered, over 100 years after they perished, as common practice was to lock doors to stairwells and exists to stop people taking breaks.
Living on the edge of Loch Leven, I drive past the Benarty Miners Memorial Garden, tended by dedicated folk in memory of all the men, women and children who worked in the Fife Coal Field…and those who died.
More recently the art of storytelling is highlighting importance of having people’s voices heard, to stop others being cut down. The health and safety community is tightknit; through RoSPA’s Awards Excellence Forum we bring individuals and organisations together to share what works and to learn from and support each other when something goes wrong. We utilise such stories – not only of those who have suffered an injury, but of best practice, ideas, problems solved and issues on the horizon – to drive forward the accident and ill-health prevention agenda, to ensure all loved ones, all over the world, go home safe at the end of every working day.
The impact of death and serious injury is not lost on us, and the tipping point between success and failure is precarious, so those in the industry must work together if we are to succeed.
Dr Karen McDonnell, occupational safety and health policy adviser
Posted: 4/25/2018 1:59:48 PM