This news article (link below) is indeed heartbreaking for a few reasons:
1) Someone has passed on which is truly saddening; our condolences to his family and friends.
2) The tragedy was preventable.
3) Over time business will probably continue as usual with no change, or no regard for the importance of Occupational Safety.
This accident is a direct reflection of the importance placed on revision, enforcement and adherence to Guyana’s Occupational Safety laws. It is always a constant struggle to get people to take their own safety seriously without them thinking that ‘you just want to tell them how to do their job’, or ‘its a waste of money to get personal protective equipment (PPE) because nothing will happen.’ And the point is that safety is about redundancy which is why there is a hierarchy of controls which assists with strategically thinking of all the ways to prevent and protect individuals from hazards.
Here are a few lessons we can be reminded of or learn from this situation:
1) Job risk assessments and job hazard analysis assist with the identification of hazards, the potential consequences of said hazards and mitigation measures that may lessen the consequences or remove the hazard completely.
2) Safety talks before the start of a job is useful. It provides information on the possible hazards lurking around the job site and brings awareness to the control measures and warns workers before hand.
3) Signs are important. It is a form of communication and gives the individuals information that is necessary about their environment such as warnings, required PPE, how to approach etc.
4) When working at heights it is important to utilise a fall arrest system. No one ever thinks it could happen to them but that is why after something happens it is called an accident because we never intend for it to be so.
5) Mitigating hazards- the hole should have either been covered or danger tape placed around the area to warn workers not to go there.
We can only hope that going forward we take safety a little more seriously not just the government but us as a people. After all, safety is EVERYONE’S business.