Comment – Another life ruined…

Horrific accident robs man of hard-earned retirement

To the best of my knowledge, I have never met David Whitfield. As far as I am aware, neither our professional nor personal paths have ever crossed. In fact, despite the length of time I have spent writing about this industry and my hard-fought online omnipresence, he probably doesn’t even know that I exist.

But for the past few days, I have thought of very little other than David Whitfield. He swam into my field of consciousness this past week as the result of a horrific accident in which he lost one arm below the elbow and the hand on the other arm.

David is 64 years old and was probably eyeing the career horizon for a long-awaited and hard-earned retirement. Maybe he was planning to potter about his garden. Maybe he was going fishing or playing golf. But he has been robbed of all of these by one thing and one thing alone – The demolition industry.

The precise cause of the accident that has left David Whitfield disabled will, I am sure, eventually emerge after an HSE investigation and, perhaps, a resulting prosecution. In truth, none of this will really matter to David Whitfield. At 64 years of age, there is no Invictus Games to aspire too; no Paralympic gold medal out of adversity. And even if he is awarded a hefty financial settlement, no amount of money will restore his hand and his arm.

Christmas is now less than eight weeks away and David Whitfield will struggle to open gifts from family and friends. He will struggle to hug those closest to him. And he will require help to eat his Christmas dinner, all thanks to this industry of ours.

At the end of this week, the industry will gather Amsterdam for the World Demolition Awards to honour and reward those companies that have excelled this past year. I do not begrudge them their trophies. In fact, some of my closest friends in the industry are in the running for an award and my fingers will be crossed for them even though I won’t be there.

But while those trophies are being handed out and the post-awards champagne is being quaffed, David Whitfield will likely be in a hospital bed facing the remainder of his life as a disabled man.

For every company shortlisted for an award, this industry has created another David Whitfield. For every winner’s trophy handed out, this industry has created another bereaved family somewhere.

And, so long as that is the case, those trophies will be devalued and tarnished; a resplendent frosting on a rotten cake.