Working for RoSPA I am immersed on a daily basis in thinking about how to bring people together, around topics that save lives and reduce the numbers harmed as a result of working for a living.
Talking about numbers, and whether they have gone up or are trending down, really misses the point. Behind every data point – even more poignant as we hear the daily numbers associated with COVID-19 – is a person, their family, community and co-workers. There is a place for humanising occupational health and safety (OSH), and we must make time for remembrance.
Whether the passing is quick as a result of a workplace fatality, or slow as a result of occupational disease, the sense of loss lasts for generations. Losses that didn’t have to happen, accidents and occupational diseases we know how to prevent.
I met Dr Marc Reid, from Pre-Site Safety, as I do loads of folk: at a conference, at the University of Strathclyde Innovation Centre just opposite the building where I studied Applied Microbiology. Indeed, no wrong path to being part of the OSH community!
Marc’s work as an academic research scientist for the university focused on chemistry. When he started to speak about Piper Alpha, I anticipated a presentation that took the audience through the sequence of events, and how they could have been prevented. However, Marc told us his family’s story.
A father who made his way to the Piper Alpha helideck with a co-worker, against the odds, and jumped. A father who wanted to be home with his 14-week-old son. Of the 61 Piper Alpha survivors, one fifth suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Marc’s dad was one of them. And the ripple effect of Piper Alpha took Marc’s dad from his family long before his time.
In his closing remarks, Marc reflected on his dad and used the words “for as long as I was lucky to know him”, which had a lasting impact on me and others listening that day.
On this International Workers’ Memorial Day (April 28), please take time to stop and think about those who lose their lives working for a living. The ripple effects of Piper Alpha, and countless other disasters, blight the lives of families across the world. And those families blighted by the COVID-19 pandemic are only just starting their journey.
Dr Karen McDonnell
IOSH Working Safely
Posted: 4/28/2020 2:25:05 PM