Comment – Morgue on speed-dial…

Three demolition deaths in a week is three too many.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and the guy in front of you just falls down, dead. Would you know what to do? Would you phone for an ambulance or the police? Would you prepare a witness statement? Would you issue a press release or public statement? Would you inform the next of kin? The truth is, for most people, a sudden death would render them largely unable to function in any helpful or meaningful way.

What does it say about the global demolition industry then that deaths occur so frequently that there is a system and procedure in place for just such an eventuality? Any industry in which deaths are so common as to require a standard protocol and where contractors seemingly have the local morgue on speed-dial is an industry that probably shouldn’t even exist.

In just over a week, the industry has killed three more workers: one in the US; one in the UK; and now one in Canada. Three more times that fatality reporting protocol will have been enacted. Three more lengthy accident investigations. Three more families informed that one of their loved ones won’t be coming home. Three more sets of workers offered bereavement counselling.

And then what? Well, based on previous experience, the survivors just get on with their lives until it happens again on another site, at which point the whole sorry procedure is re-enacted. How can that possibly be in this day and age and in three supposedly First World countries?

If demolition were an extreme sport or high-adrenaline past-time, it would have been outlawed years ago. Instead, it claims to be a legitimate and professional market sector with codes of practice, high degrees of training and levels of regulation that are verging on the prohibitive.

The fact that a trained, professional and regulated industry sector kills three of its number in a week boggles my mind. What that industry might be capable of without such regulation does not even bare thinking about.

And if as a result of these (and other deaths) that regulation became even more prohibitive and intrusive, the demolition industry would only have itself to blame.