New Ian McMillan poem reflects on safety in commemoration of Workers’ Memorial Day

26/04/2017

A new poem commissioned by RoSPA highlights the importance of workplace safety and the very real impact of occupational accidents, in commemoration of Workers’ Memorial Day.

Penned by acclaimed poet Ian McMillan, A hundred years safer explores a number of common workplace health and safety themes while relating them to the human cost of safety failings, while the title is a reference to 2016/17 being RoSPA’s centenary year.

Ian McMillan said: “I wanted the poem to emphasise the human aspect of safety, the idea that it keeps families together, that it enhances lives, that it's the opposite of a dry set of rules.

“I wanted to think of a way into the poem and it occurred to me that entering a poem could be a dangerous thing if you didn't take the right health and safety measures.”

Workers’ Memorial Day takes place every year on April 28, and is an opportunity to reflect on the many people who are killed, seriously injured or made ill while simply doing their jobs.

There are dozens of permanent memorials to lost workers around the UK, and many of them will be hosting ceremonies on Friday.

Sheila Pantry, of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee, said: “Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. The purpose behind it has always been to remember all those killed or injured in the workplace or suffering from an occupational disease.

“We can look back at history and see the improvements that have been made, but everyone – directors, managers, safety representatives and workers – must continue to strive to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated.”

A hundred years safer is due to be uploaded to RoSPA’s website in time for Workers’ Memorial Day at www.rospa.com/occupational-safety/conferences-events/workers-memorial-day.

To find out more about Workers’ Memorial Day, see www.sheilapantry.com/memorial and to see how workplace safety has improved and changed throughout history, see www.historyofosh.org.uk.

More information about how RoSPA is marking its centenary can be found at www.rospa100.com 

A HUNDRED YEARS SAFER

Do not trip or fall

Into this poem. Do not get

Entangled in these lines.

Let’s all come home smiling

In the evening.

Let’s sit in the garden’s

Soft sunshine;

Do not bend to lift

These rhyming verses:

Take a moment, think

And look around.

Gravity and carelessness

Can do for you,

Send you tumbling

To the stony ground.

Keeping safe’s a gift

We all should open:

Hard hats, hi-vis jackets

Do their job. Do not leave

Your safety to the others:

Laughter is more welcome

Than a sob. Loved ones

Watching for the headlights

Turning on the corner

Of the street: seat belt on

And driving to the limit.

You’ve returned,

The poem is complete.

A hundred years safer,

no small feat.

© Ian McMillan

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