14/07/2020 - 16:00 pm

The war not yet won

Our challenge is an eternal one.  The wrestle with gravity. It was here before us, and it will outlive all of us.


I feel a burden of responsibility heading up our 75 year old association. As well as to the current and future membership, the initial aspirations of LEEA’s Founding Fathers weighs heavily on my mind. The COVID-19 situation has been all about finding new and innovative ways to deliver against our longstanding vision, but the things that underpin us are important building blocks for that future.

Our organisational vision to raise standards and promote sustainability is LEEA’s flag in the ground, our totem pole to which we can look when making decisions and planning for the future.

And while our circumstances are very different in late 2020 than they were in June 1944 when we were first established, some of our challenges are the same. Perhaps this is unique to our industry, because when you boil it right down, our challenge is an eternal one.  The wrestle with gravity. It was here before us, and it will outlive all of us. It is a challenge that defines how the human race operates and lives.  And as we go higher or further out, or into more inclement spaces; that challenge is ever more pronounced and forever more acute. In this regard, our finishing line always gets further away, meaning the need for more and better solutions is always with us.

Sometimes the world can adopt a devil-may-care approach to safety. In some parts of society ‘Health and Safety’ is a synonym for the Nanny State, for bureaucracy or for political correctness gone mad. I’m sure we’ve all heard these terms being conflated. But we know that lifting can be extremely dangerous. So there is a central role for a sensible, grown up approach to the identification and management of risk.

To remind us all.

l Best statistics tell us that every year there are 2.78 million global workplace deaths.

l Work related ill health and injury cost the EU member states over 3% of their GDP every year.  Putting that into context, this is more than the UK spends on its defence budget.

The International Labor Organisation states that the top causes of deaths in construction are falls, immediately followed by crane collapses.

Deaths due to falls have risen in the UK by 11% in the last 5 years.

And so it is clear that the aspirations of the original LEEA members are just as relevant now as they always have been. The challenges may be more complicated. The solutions harder to create.  But this is a wrestle we are all in. It’s not a fight from which we can, or should walk away.

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LHI April 2024

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