Opinion – Demolition Duality

In the unlikely event that I should ever find myself on Death Row, I already know what last meal I would request. It would be that London favourite, Pie and Mash. More specifically, it would be pie and mash from Manze’s eel and pie house in Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey. Even more specifically, it would be a “double-double”. Two pies, two mash and lashings of liquor (if you’re not from London, you will just have to take my word for it).

Based upon extensive research and personal experience, I know that a double-double is a double that goes down well each and every time. But there are doubles that are harder to digest and that I find more difficult to stomach. Like the huge number of double standards that continue to exist within the UK demolition and construction industry.

Double standards you say? Surely not. I shall require evidence. Then, loyal reader, evidence you shall have.

For the past four or five years, the industry has been riding the mental health awareness bandwagon for all it is worth. And yet the industry continues to operate within a bubble in which bullying is rife and in which job security is merely the stuff of dreams.

The industry claims that it is doing more to encourage women into its fold. Yet with the exception of the begrudged addition of a female toilet, many sites remain as inhospitable and toxic for women as they ever were.

The industry claims a determination to stamp out accidents and fatalities. But rather than sharing details of any accidents that do transpire as a potential lesson to others, those details and those accidents are regularly swept beneath the nearest carpet.

The industry claims to have a culture of safety. Yet those that point out shortcomings in safety often find themselves pushed towards the exit, dismissed as trouble-makers or blacklisted entirely.

The industry will continually piss and moan about the lack of skilled workers. But it has engineered a training and competence card regime so complex and so expensive that it is no longer a stepping-stone into the industry but an insurmountable barrier to entry. Rather than being a means by which to nourish and replenish the industry’s workforce, training has become the lush pasture used to fatten training’s cash cow, benefitting only those in the business of bovine ownership.

The industry complains bitterly that those above them in the sector food chain are slow to pay their bills. Yet those further down that food chain inflict the same suffering upon their suppliers on a daily basis.

Industry bodies claim to have codes of conduct. But when push comes to shove, the rules that support that code are applied selectively. And if your face fits, they simply do not apply at all.

Is that enough evidence or would you like me to go on?

In each instance, the industry’s duality is explained in the same way. There are the things that we would like others – clients, regulatory bodies, our peers, the media – to believe. And then there’s the truth. Indeed, many of the claims made by the industry in an attempt to look good should be taken with a pinch of salt; so much salt, in fact, that we each run the risk of hypernatremia.

If you type into Google “saying one thing when you mean another”, the search engine says that this is the very definition of irony. But it says something else too.

“Someone who says one thing and does another thing is called a hypocrite .”

Now. Double-double anyone?

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