Very few of those killed at work or who die prematurely from work related illness each year have willingly exposed themselves to risk. Many of these tragic deaths provide warnings or learnings that help workers, employers and practitioners move towards better standards, better health prospects and reducing workplace fatality risk. We are a global occupational health and safety community, the shape of the world as we know it today rests on the histories carved out by the mosaic of men and women who came before us.
Every year on the 28th April, we have an opportunity to remember and pay respects to each individual who has lost their lives prematurely to work related ill health or accident globally. But it is in November when, as a UK based consultancy, our thoughts turn to all those who have lost their lives in the collective pursuit of the various freedoms which permit the day to day lives we know today, and remembering them.
The first two minute silence in Britain was held on 11 November 1919, when King George V asked the public to observe a silence at 11am. This was one year after the end of World War I. He made the request so "the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead".
In common with any major workplace disaster, the end of the First World War left a shockwave of grief and guilt and no doubt some degree of anger. As with many workers losing their lives in the workplace, the men and women who die in conflict around the world may not agree with the politics or the methods employed, many families are torn apart by the losses experienced and the torture of lingering, doubting, ‘what ifs’ begins as their loved one’s heart stops beating.
At AMHS Ltd this week we will stop to remember them and to reflect, we will stop because before we carry on towards our own collective and singular goals, our two minutes of thought allow us to be reminded that any death is a tragedy, failing to learn from such tragedy is unforgivable.