Today is the 25th anniversary of the Westray Coal Mine Explosion when 26 men went to work and never came home again.
Here in Canada, as a result of this disaster, laws have been changed giving workers many more rights with respect to workplace safety, but sadly there are still far too many that will not return home at the end of their work shifts.
Over the last quarter century many things have changed for the better with the increased workplace safety rights for workers, with changes in the law, and implementation of ISM in the marine industry. Despite these changes, I can’t help but think that, the more things may change on one front the more things change in the opposite direction on other fronts to try and maintain a status quo or “Business as usual”.
While many Industries, including some sectors of the Marine Industry, have taken great strides in improving workplace safety including the equal sharing of the responsibility for workplace safety in all levels from the CEO down to the individual worker. Others have worked hard to seek changes to help retain the status quo through lobbying for self-regulation, and limiting corporate liability through the downloading of responsibility and liability for workplace safety to the immediate supervisor (Captains & Chiefs) and the individual worker.
There has also been the trend in recent history for the same Governments responsible for creating the laws, under a political agenda to limit or reduce the size of Government, stripping Government and other Agencies responsible for enforcing the rules of their ability to do so.
This unfortunately has left a situation that even today for many, here and around the world, discovered during inquiry into the disaster. Namely that decisions and policies are still being made by those who believe themselves to be immune and or ignorant to the risks to personal safety endured by workers. How many unknown lives will be lost today because of decisions made in a boardroom or office with the sole purpose of protecting Corporate Revenues and Profits?