Today is worker’s Memorial Day. The day we mark the previous year’s workplace fatalities. These workers leave behind friends and families that never recover emotionally and financially from fatalities.
According to the National Safety Council, workplace deaths that were not preventable were 733 out of 5147 fatalities. This statistic completely destroys the assertion that workplace fatalities are just “accidents” and “it was there time to die” that most safety people hear when managing a fatality.
In one conversation I had during an accident investigation that was entirely preventable I asked the worker who didn’t see “the rules” as being important. I asked him if he died at work who would it impact. He said no one, because I have no one (he was divorced with no children and no living relative, and few friends), he was one of the toughest workers you’d ever meet. I ended up being “Clarence” from It’s a Wonderful Lifeand noticed that he had purchased coffee from a local coffee shop. I asked him where he got his coffee, and who made it for him? He said Silvia. I asked him who Silvia was, he described a local college student he’d been getting coffee from since she was 14 working in her parent’s store. Then I asked him “Do you think Silvia would be upset if you died at work?” It hit him like a ton of bricks, and his attitude towards working safely.
It’s not about the worker who died, the statistics, the Recordable Rate, or Experience Modification Rate. It’s about the people that these worker’s left behind. Pretty much all from preventable accidents. All workers especially Safety Professionals should keep that in mind as they do their job. That is why we keep fighting the Safety Wars™ in our everyday life, so we can come home safe to our communities who rely on us.