Opinion – Deadened to death

For those of us of a certain age, the Band Aid song “Do they know it’s Christmas” – released in 1984 – and the Live Aid benefit concert that took place some seven months, are historical landmarks. For a short time, there was a very real feeling that music really could change and possibly save the world.

Setting aside the fact that the record and the subsequent Transatlantic concert raised millions, the revisionist view is less positive. The organisers stand accused of reinforcing stereotypes of poor, starving Africans and their white saviours. Personally, if Band Aid and Live Aid saved the life of a single Ethiopian child, I believe it was worthwhile and that such criticisms are merely indicative of our increasingly “woke” culture.

However, it is harder to defend against accusations that Band Aid/Live Aid spawned what has been called “Charity Fatigue”. The belief is that seven months’ exposure to images of starving and dying children desensitised the public; draining their reserves of compassion and ultimately making them less likely to donate to this or any other charity.

My fear is that the UK demolition industry is experiencing a similar fatigue and desensitisation. But it is not starving Africans, it is dead demolition workers; and it is not Charity Fatigue but Grief Fatigue.

On Thursday last week, we reported the latest fatal accident on a UK demolition site. As usual, that report received thousands of views. As usual, many of those views were accompanied by comments. And as usual, those comments were the usual mix of “so sad”, “our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends”.

Those comments were well intentioned, I am sure. I have used similar phrases myself in the past and I shall likely do so again in the future. But such comments no longer express what should be the feelings of an industry at the news of yet another site death.

In the event of a site fatality, the sector should not be sad, it should be angry and outraged. It should not be posting comments on social media at the passing of one of its number; it should be taking to the streets, storming the offices of the Health and Safety Executive, NFDC, IDE and anyone else with even the slightest link to the demolition industry.

Sadly, like those that stopped supporting charities when Live Aid was over, we have become attuned and numbed by over-exposure to fatal accidents. Didcot, Longannet, Redcar and countless others have robbed us of our ability to feel the true impact of the death of a demolition worker. We have – with no sense of irony – become deadened to death.