Forget lost time accidents, what about lost time lives?

From time to time, we receive press releases about companies achieving measurable safety benchmarks such as a million man hours without a lost time accident. It is a good and encouraging sign that many contractors and clients in this market are monitoring their health and safety performance and are rightly proud when this kind of target is met.

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By  Sean Cronin Published  May 20, 2006

|~||~||~|From time to time, we receive press releases about companies achieving measurable safety benchmarks such as a million man hours without a lost time accident. It is a good and encouraging sign that many contractors and clients in this market are monitoring their health and safety performance and are rightly proud when this kind of target is met. What we don’t get so often are press releases announcing that a worker has fallen to his death from a scaffold, or been crushed by a retaining wall. In the absence of official records available for public scrutiny or a central register of construction accidents, we only hear about incidents from the co-workers of those who are killed or injured. When we do hear about site fatalities, the response from companies falls into three basic categories. The first is no response at all. The second is: “It’s none of your business.” And the third is: “We cannot comment as there is an investigation underway — but we at this company take health and safety very seriously.” By far and away the most common is the first — no response at all. It means that we only hear about a fraction of the site fatalities that occur and have to piece together what happened through what can be a painstaking process. Some contractors are more than happy to hide behind the aprons of officialdom if it means they can possibly avoid the uncomfortable acknowledgement that somebody lost their life on one of their sites. The absence of a prosecuting health and safety watchdog in many Gulf states means that construction workers who are killed in site accidents fall into what is a statistical black hole. They really are ‘the forgotten’. And what of these investigations that we are told about so often in the hours or days after a fatal site accident? When the investigations are completed what do they say, where are they filed, who writes them and more importantly, who reads them? We sure don’t.||**||

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