I am writing to comment on an advertisement in the 28 January issue (page 66). Under the banner “Unsung heroes”, there is a picture of a worker sitting high in the air on a steel beam. From the picture there is no clear means of fall protection, although he is wearing a helmet.
The Collins Concise dictionary definition of “hero” is a “man distinguished by exceptional courage (the power of dealing with or facing danger, fear or pain)”. Why, as a responsible industry, do we continue to perpetuate and glorify this type of image? I am sure most readers will know that, on average, falling from height accounts for half the deaths in the industry. There is evidence that through technical and managerial action we have had some impact on these figures. However, there are some who think we will not improve significantly until we change our culture. Advertisements of this type do nothing to help this.
The advertisement was to introduce the 2005 Building Awards and the “industry’s achiever of the year”. The small print says that this award is not “aimed at chief executives or high flyers: but the front line people [note the military and combative language] who really make things happen”. It goes on to say: “Perhaps you know of a colleague in construction who has overcome a disability or accident or has campaigned to improve working conditions.” I think that the irony of this speaks for itself.