Comment – Standing on the shoulders of giants…

Why we owe the industry’s forebears a double-debt.

Being a Brit, I don’t do Thanksgiving, which is probably just as well as I am pretty ungrateful individual at the best of times. If I did, the list of things I am thankful for would be very short: my wife, children and grandchildren, West Ham United, the music of Ultravox and tea.

But each of us is the demolition sphere should be eternally and jointly grateful. We should be thankful that we work in an industry that no longer injures, maims or kills its workers with the reckless abandon that it once did. We should be thankful that working conditions today bear no resemblance to those endured by our predecessors as little as 20 or 30 years ago. And above all, we should be thankful for the determination, dedication and foresight of our forebears that helped create an industry that is safer, healthier and more respected than ever before.

We are, each of us, standing on the shoulders of giants; giants that disregarded perceived wisdoms and methodologies to create new and safer methods of work. Such leaps would not have been easy; and they certainly would not have been cheap. The adoption of ongoing training comes at enormous cost and often appears to show little return. Making the switch from wrecking ball to high reach excavator required an equally costly leap of faith. Embracing systems of self-regulation and inspection was not required by law and also came at a financial cost that could not be directly recouped. But all of these things were done not because they were cheap and not because they were easy. They were done because they were right.

For each of these things, we owe the industry’s forebears a double debt. We owe them a debt of gratitude because it is their far-sighted wisdom that ensures that we each go home safe at the end of each working day; that the industry has a clear and well-defined career path that allows hard-working and determined individuals to rise through its ranks; that the industry enjoys a level of respect and admiration that would have been unimaginable just a few short decades ago.

Moreover, the industry owes those wise and selfless innovators of yesteryear a debt to maintain their legacy and to continue their work, regardless of the cost. Those of us that have inherited this industry have a duty to continue to question accepted wisdom; to embrace and develop new technology; to forge new paths and to make bold leaps of our own; to let no envelope go unpushed.

The industry that will be inherited by our sons and daughters and our grandsons and granddaughters will be born from the seeds we sow today. It is our duty as an industry to provide them with an industry for which they too can be thankful.