The UK demolition industry must have very tall carpets, such is the volume of bad news swept under them. We all know that accidents happen and yet they have an unerring knack of disappearing from view, only to re-emerge without comment, fanfare or explanation when the Health and Safety Executive finally gets around to presenting its findings.
So the news that the industry now has a forum to promote and facilitate shared learning when things went or almost went wrong is as welcome as it is overdue. I can only hope that the industry embraces this opportunity with more vigour than it has at industry gatherings in the past.
I have largely given up attending industry events and seminars as they have evolved to become a platform for manufacturers and suppliers to flog their wares (perfectly reasonable; they have paid for that privilege) and contractor braggadocio.
I have attended countless numbers of these events over the years and I can only recall one occasion in which a contractor had the requisite cajones to stand up and admit that something had gone awry. Does that mean that the rest of the industry is without sin? Certainly, the country’s accident and emergency departments and mortuaries suggest otherwise. I can understand a reluctance to share such failings in an open forum where such admissions might impact negatively with existing and potential clients. But in a close-knit niche like demolition in which it’s impossible to sneeze without a competitor hearing about it, what is the point of putting on a brave and false face in the aftermath of an incident or accident? Is ours really the only industry in which pride comes AFTER a fall?
Whether the industry will embrace the admirable intent of the Demolition Safety Association remains to be seen. Maybe the anonymous nature of an online forum will coax individuals out from their cocoon of public self-delusion; and maybe – just maybe – someone might learn a lesson that saves their life.
The fact that the industry requires such an initiative speaks to an overdue admission that the sector still has much to learn in the field of safety. The fact that this initiative was created outside of existing trade bodies suggests that it is not just individual contractors with tall carpets.