It’s 6.00 am and the radio alarm wakes you up to start another day, you shower, think about the day ahead.
Think about what was discussed at work the day before, think about what you have to do before you get to work. Perhaps you have to drop-off the kids at school, get a birthday card, make an appointment to get that boiler fixed.
Time is getting on, breakfast, if there is time, say your good byes and then you are on your way to work.
Planning out what needs to be done, where you have to be and hoping that this is the day you get around to that task that’s been on your list for what seems like forever.
Then, the phone rings and there is the start of one of the most difficult conversations that someone has ever had ‘Could I speak to….., I’m sorry to tell you….’
I don’t know if that is how the day began, or how someone received the news that their loved one, partner, husband, wife, father, mother, friend or relation had gone to work and wouldn’t be coming back.
But I can imagine that such conversations took place.
Figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in the year up to 2015, 142 people died in the course of their work.
Behind these numbers we can see that most fatalities took place for those working in construction where 35 people died, in agriculture 33 people died, in manufacturing 16 people died and there was one death in mining and quarrying.
Although, in most sectors the figures have stayed the same or are improving the figure for services, which includes deaths associated with railways is increasing with 51 deaths which is 21% higher than the rate for the past five years.
The figures produced by the HSE also include those for members of the public who died in relations to accidents connected to work and show that there are 123 people who died including 21 (17%) occurring on railways. Suicides are included in this figure but the way that suicides are reported has changed.
The increase in deaths for those working in services underlines concerns recently expressed by the TUC.
Over a ten-year period 2009/10 to 2019/20 the HSE will see its budget almost halved.
Such a cut in funding casts real doubt that the HSE will be able to achieve what it sets out in a new strategy called “Helping Great Britain work well”.
Once again workers will come to rely on Union Health & Safety reps to ensure that their places of work are safe environment to work in.
That is why this Thursday, on International Workers Memorial Day around the world many of us will gather to remember those who have died in the workplace and to pay tribute to the work done by Union Health & Safety Reps.
I will as I have for the last few years be attending the memorial event at Bonnyrigg, Midlothian.
But, this year I will be attending an additional event on Sunday 1st May at the Miners’ Memorial in Danderhall where a plaque will be unveiled to remember those that died at the Woolmet Colliery.
47 people died at Woolmet including on 12 April 1918, Christina Clark who was 16 year old.
At both those events I will take a few minutes to reflect upon those who left for work, thinking about the day ahead, but never to return.
The details of the events I have mentioned above are:-
Thursday , 28 April, 12.30, Michael McGahey memorial, George V Park , Bonnyrigg, EH19 2AD. Commemorative address will be given by Ryan Boyle, Vice-Chair of the STUC Youth Committee
Sunday, 1 May, 1.00 pm, Miners’ Memorial, Danderhall. More information can be found here.
International Workers Memorial Day Events
A number of events are taking place around the UK and can be details can be found here.