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Comment – A truly sobering statistic - Demolition News

Comment – A truly sobering statistic - Demolition News


How many demolition workers do you think have either witnessed or personally experienced a demolition accident? One in 100? One in 50? One in 20?

How about more than one in three?

That was the outcome of a wholly unscientific poll that we conducted on our Instagram channel this past weekend. Just under 3,000 people responded and a staggering 36 percent said that they had either witnessed or been personally involved in some form of demolition accident.

As I said, this was a wholly unscientific survey. Maybe those that follow DemolitionNews on Instagram just happen to be among the sector’s most accident-prone. And while 3,000-odd people does represent a pretty good cross-section (way more than the polls used to “predict” political election results), it is – I admit – far from comprehensive.

Furthermore, the question was admittedly pretty vague so the responses could mean anything from a whack on the toe from a bit of low-flying debris to the witnessing of a fatality.

But more than a third? Let’s think about that for a second. It is estimated that the UK demolition industry employs somewhere in the region of 25,000 people. Based on the findings of our poll, that means more than 8,000 of them will experience or witness a demolition accident at some time during their career.

I just did a Google search and found that – here in the UK – around 44 people in every million would be expected to catch COVID-19. If my maths is correct, that means that around one in 23,000 people were expected to contract COVID-19. And that threat was considered sufficiently great to bring the world to a standstill and to place the UK in a prolonged period of quarantine.

Cancer, which is estimated to effect one out of every 2.5 people, has its own national charity and is the subject of on-going and high profile research.

Yet demolition accidents, which impact almost as many of its people, barely get a mention outside the annual HSE roll-call of tragedy.

Such a statistic also highlights the way in which we record and document accidents within this sector.

Each year – often to my own disservice and even more often to the annoyance of others – I present the Health and Safety Executive figures relating to the number of people killed on construction and demolition sites up and down the country. But while fatalities justifiably grab the headlines, those figures actually obscure the sheer volume of “lesser” accidents within the demolition and construction sphere.

I will repeat. My survey was not scientific. It is not reliable. And I certainly wouldn’t want to stake what remains of my tattered reputation upon its findings.

But coming at the end of a week in which we also reported an 84 percent hike in working at height safety breaches, it is clear that we have a long way to go on our journey to zero harm.

And to suggest otherwise is merely prolonging the problem.

Seen first on Demolition News – Wed, 12 May 2021 15:15:35 +0000

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